The Detroit Pistons had their toughest test to date of the 2013 season on Tuesday night when they matched up against the undefeated, division rival Indiana Pacers in Auburn Hills, MI. Indiana has been one of the most consistent teams in the NBA the last few years, coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals last season where they lost to the Miami Heat in seven games.
Small forward Paul George and center Roy Hibbert provide the Pacers with two incredibly talented players, that are expected to keep them in championship contention for years to come. The Pacers are without a doubt a better team on paper, but there is a reason they play the game.
Indiana looked the part of championship contender in the first quarter, outscoring the Pistons by 15 points, taking a 29-14 lead into the second quarter. It was not looking good for Detroit until all of a sudden with about six minutes left in the quarter, Will Bynum hit a three pointer to bring them within single digits. The Pistons ended the quarter on a 17-3 run and somehow took a three point lead into the locker room at halftime.
To start the second half, the Pacers began where they left off at the end of the first quarter, going on a 15-2 run. From that point on, the game was never really in question, although Detroit did a good job of making the final score respectable, losing 99-91.
The big struggle for the hometown team was their jump shooting, as they shot 38% from inside the arc, and an even worse 20% from downtown. A huge reason for those numbers was due to Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, who combined shot 2-12 from three and took more than 35 shots.
Coming into the game the spotlight matchup was the two teams’ front courts, as Indiana has flourished recently by out-rebounding the opposition and outscoring them in the post. The Pistons though have been one of the top five teams in both of those categories this season, and they were more than up to the challenge. This proved to be the only true bright spot for Detroit as they accumulated 36 points, six blocks, and 26 rebounds.
The game was ultimately decided by the tremendous play of superstar Paul George, who scored 31 points and had 10 rebounds in 41 minutes of play. In order for Detroit to become playoff contenders, they need to be able to shut down opposing teams’ best players. They were unable to do so Tuesday night and as a result, they had to mark one down in the loss column.
The next game for the Pistons will be on Friday night as they take on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The game will tip off at 7:30 and can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit
Cameron Billes is the host of Horsepower for Impact Sports.