The Pistons were missing starting shooting guard Brandon Knight again due to a right knee hyper extension, and Detroit struggled to score without him. Against a stout Indiana defense, the Pistons missed on their first seven shots before Rodney Stuckey knocked one down for the Pistons. When he made the jumper though, the Pacers were up 10-0.
Again Roy Hibbert started it off. He was fouled by Greg Monroe and he hit both free throws. George Hill had a turnaround and a floater, them Hibbert and Paul George had back-to-back layups. Monroe started 0/7 for Detroit before finally getting a layup to go. The Pistons shot a paltry 14% in the first quarter and scored a grand total of nine points. They trailed 16-9 after one.
Will Bynum then hopped off the bench and “Bynumite” was terrific. He scored 8 points of a Pistons 12-0 run as the Pistons took a 21-20 lead in the 2nd quarter. Bynum had a pull up, then he got to the rim for a layup, he followed that with another pull up, and then he found Charlie Villanueva for a triple for the lead. Things got chippy between Villanueva and David West. Villanueva fouled West then West bumped into Villanueva with his shoulder. West was called for the tech. Bynum hit the tech and then had a jumper to get Detroit within 27-26.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel then called timeout and Indiana ended the quarter on a 12-2 run to take a 39-28 lead at halftime. Indiana took advantage of some bad Pistons turnovers. Jason Maxiell and Bynum had bad turnovers and Hill and Hibbert had layups to really take the life out of the Pistons.
To start the 3rd quarter, Hill had a 3, West had a 3-point play, Lance Stephenson had a 3, and George had a 3 for a 53-37 lead. Stuckey then had a 3-point play and Khris Middleton then had a 3 to get the Pistons within 53-43. However, a steady dose of West and George had Indiana up 63-48 after three and the Pistons never really challenged again.
Danny Granger, making his season debut after missing the Pacers’ first 55 games, had a jump shot to put the Pacers up 70-50 for his first bucket of the season. Indiana’s bench celebrated like they just won the championship. Pistons coach Lawrence Frank called timeout and inserted Bynum looking for one last spark. Bynum lasted 1:30 before throwing a punch into Tyler Hansbrough’s stomach. He was called for a flagrant 2 and was ejected. It was the definition of a frustration foul. The Pistons fell 90-72 and were swept by the Pacers.
Bynum had 15 points to lead Detroit and Monroe had 12 and 12 boards. Monroe however shot 4/16 and scored most of his points during garbage time. Same with Jose Calderon who had 13. The Pistons showed a lot of fight in this one, getting under the Pacers’ skin and really getting after it defensively. They just couldn’t solve the Pacers number one ranked defense. The Pacers are just the superior team and it showed tonight. I said it last night, the Indiana Pacers are really the only team who can challenge the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
My one bright spot: Middleton. Middleton came off the bench and was aggressive. He was only 1/5 from deep but they were open looks and he looked comfortable. He was driving to the rim and it was encouraging to see. Hopefully Lawrence Frank gives him more burn.
I was surprised at the fact that Jonas Jerebko didn’t receive any playing time. It’s becoming more and more clear to me that Jerebko isn’t in the Pistons’ future plans. He’s clearly in Frank’s dog house and he and Frank look like they have a real rocky relationship.
Knight underwent an MRI before the game and it showed swelling in the knee. No structural damage and he’s listed as day-to-day. The Pistons hope to have him back on Monday against the Atlanta Hawks.