The Detroit Pistons were coming off a long, emotional double overtime loss in Brooklyn and were hosting the best defensive team in the NBA, the Indiana Pacers. Needless to say, they were fatigued.
The Pacers took advantage of the Pistons’ fatigue and went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter to take a 17-6 lead. George Hill and Gerald Green knocked down three combined 3-pointers and the Pacers ran up and down on the Pistons. Lawrence Frank called timeout and made som adjustments.
In came Rodney Stuckey and Andre Drummond for Kyle Singler and Jason Maxiell. Stuckey and Drummond provided a jolt for the Pistons. Stuckey was driving the lane with ease and Drummond was gobbling up and rebounds. Detroit went on a 14-3 run and tied the game at 20 on a Stuckey layup around Pacers center Ian Mahinmi. Detroit trailed 26-22 after a quarter.
In the second quarter, the Pistons kept close with the Pacers but couldn’t get over the hump. Twice the Pistons got to within one and one time they tied it but couldn’t take a lead. After Greg Monroe had a layup to tie the game at 38, Pacers center Roy Hibbert injured his ankle with 53.8 seconds leftand missed the rest of the game. Indiana took a 42-38 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the second half, Monroe took advantage of no Hibbert and went right to work against Jeff Pendergraph. Monroe started the second half 4/4 shooting and took advatange of the mismatches he was getting. Monroe hit a jumper over David West then had an And-1 against West. He then drove the lane against Pendergraph and both players exchanged words. Next possession, Monroe knocked down a jump shot in Pendergraph’s face. West began to heat up for Indiana and he led the Pacers to a 61-53 lead. Detroit wouldn’t back down as Singler knocked down a 3 then Drummond had a thunderous put back slam. Drummond then drew a charge and blocked a Hill 3 to end the third quarter and the Pistons got to within 63-60 after three.
Drummond wasn’t done yet. To start the fourth, he tipped in an alley-oop off a Stuckey pass and then Drummond had a turnaround jumper from behind the backboard as the shot block expired to get the Pistons to within 66-64. A Singler jumper got Detroit to within 68-66 and then both teams locked down on defense.
Tyler Hansbrough went up for a dunk, but Drummond went up and blocked that one too. The Pistons weren’t much better as Corey Maggette and Jason Maxiell missed some jumpers. Then West came back in and took over the game.
After a minute of half of no scoring, the Pacers scored the next 11 points. It started with a West free throw, then West had a hook shot, and Hill knocked down a 3-pointer. West then had a fallaway jump shot and followed that up with another jump shot. By then, Indiana led 81-68. Coach Frank tried to bring in Drummond for Maxiell and go Drummond and Monroe down the stretch, but it was too late. The damage was done and the Pistons were too fatigued to answer.
West led the Pacers with 23 points, with 19 coming in the second half. George had 15, eight rebounds, and eight assists and Hill chipped in with 18 for the Pacers.
Monroe led the Pistons with 18 points and eight rebounds, Drummond finished with 11 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks, and Stuckey had 15 and seven dimes.
I was confused with coach Frank’s rotation tonight. The team was playing the second game of a back-to-back and they just got done playing 58 minutes of basketball. Three of the Pistons starters played at least 40 minutes with Stuckey playing 40 off the bench. The starters were tired down the stretch and it cost them. Tonight was a night that we should’ve seen guys like Will Bynum and Jonas Jerebko, who hasn’t played since Nov. 23. It’s also obvious that this is a better team with Monroe and Drummond on the court together. Frank needs to play those two together. Drummond is playing better than Maxiell and should get the majority of the minutes. He doesn’t need to start, just needs the majority of the minutes over Maxiell.
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