Running thoughts: Pistons 104, Pacers 98

Here are my running thoughts from the Pacers’ 104-98 loss to the Detroit Pistons Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

  • Pistons (16-13) guard and high-level defender Avery Bradley missed his first game of the season. He had started in all 28 games before tonight.
  • Entirely different atmosphere from the last game. Fans are beginning to get on board with this team, but they weren’t as lively as they were against Paul George and the Thunder two nights ago. How could they be? That game has been circled and highlighted. As part of that, it was a slow start for the team. They fell behind 7-2 with three turnovers.
  • Andre Drummond, the league’s top rebounder (15.3 per game), with eight points and eight rebounds after 1, where the Pistons held the Pacers to below 20 points. 27-19.
  • Lance Stephenson and Stanley Johnson had to be separated early in the second period.
  • Still playing a bit flat, the Pacers fell behind double-digits, 34-23. Nate McMillan called a timeout. They need to find something to jumpstart their offense, and typically that’s stringing together stops defensively.
  • Myles Turner wrestles for the ball. [Photo: Frank McGrath/PS&E]

    McMillan postgame: “That team played last night, and there were times during the course of this game it looked like we played last night. We looked, at times, a little flat.”
  • Shot-clock violation on the first offensive set out of the timeout. Then, Domantas Sabonis threw it away the next time down. They’ve had that kind of start.
  • Sabonis made up for it with his play the next several minutes. Eight points and four rebounds in his first eight-minute stint, which included jam for the end-of-season highlight reel on Detroit’s Eric Moreland (see below).
  • Official Zach Zarba remains atop the list. They went to the monitor to check on Darren Collison’s foul and he quickly confirmed that it was a common foul. (Although they didn’t need to go to the monitor in the first place.)
  • One of Lance’s great attributes is when he’s in attack-mode and attracts a double team. That just opened up Oladipo, who nailed a 3-pointer to give the Pacers the lead, 48-47.
  • Coach McMillan used a timeout 74 seconds into the second half as the Pistons scored seven unanswered points.
  • Props to Oladipo for contesting a dunk attempt by Andre Drummond where most guys would’ve made a business decision. Dummond, a 62% FT shooter, made one of two. It was Detroit’s first free throws of the game. (6:51 3Q)
  • Pistons gained ground on the Pacers, outscoring them by 14 points in the third by shooting 59 percent. Oladipo, who had 14 in the first half, went 2 for 8 in the quarter. Pacers’ bench outscored 32-16. 86-74
  • Detroit’s Stanley Johnson was issued a technical foul. Oladipo made the free throw, then Stephenson hit two more after being foul. That cut their deficit to seven points with 5:26 to play. The crowd has gotten into it, changing “DE-FENSE.”
  • After trailing by 16, 95-79, the Pacers used a 14-2 run to get to within four. Oladipo buried a 3-pointer, his first of the half after draining four in the first half.
  • Stephenson missed an open 3-pointer in the corner, and Turner missed one from the right arc. Either one would have given them a one-point lead. Instead, they had to foul … and ultimately it was too much to come back from a 16-point hole in the quarter.
  • Turner on that late attempt: “Yeah, that’s a shot I work on, it’s a shot I shoot with confidence. I think I flicked it instead of holding my release. It’s one that hurts. I love that moment, I live for that moment to be the guy to take that last shot. I thought I got a good look at it.”
  • Turner on the trend of having to climb back in games: “I don’t know what’s up with us, man. It’s like we play better coming from behind. We can’t be that team coming down the stretch. We can’t put ourselves in that position.”
  • The Pacers come up short, 102-98, ending a six-game win home streak over the Pistons.
  • Second straight loss, second straight game failing to score 100 points. They’re 2-8 this season when scoring fewer than 100.
  • McMillan: “We’re just not executing. Offensively, we’re not getting the quality of shots that we’ve been getting in our offense. That’s part of screening and moving the ball. We’re stopping, settling, and taking a lot of tough shots.”
  • The Pacers shot 29.5 percent — 13 of 44 from the field, including 3 of 17 from distance — in the second half, their worst shooting percentage in any half this season.
  • Oladipo had 26, including five 3-pointers. Turner contributed 24 points and 8 rebounds.
  • Stephenson provided a lift off the bench and played in crunch time. He had 9-8-5. Otherwise, the Pacers’ reserves were badly outplayed — and outscored, 43-22.
  • After winning four straight, the Pacers have dropped two in a row to go 4-2 on the homestand. Up next: The Pacers (16-13) play at Brooklyn on Sunday, then complete a back-to-back when Boston comes to town for the final time this season on Monday.
  • Darren Collison on the 4-2 homestand: “Yeah, I think that’s good. I think sometimes we overlook the bigger picture. We beat some good teams here at home.”

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