Everyone knew a loss to bad team was going to happen to the Indiana Pacers at some point this season given how bad the Eastern Conference is, and that loss finally occurred on Monday when they lost to the Detroit Pistons 101-96. Some may point to the Pacers’ first loss against the Chicago Bulls as a bad loss, but since Derrick Rose was playing, it’s hard to classify the Bulls as bad.
Against the Pistons, the Pacers looked like a team trying to find its identity instead of the team that started 9-0 and was 11-0 at home.
Paul George continued his horrible shooting streak that began last Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats by going 4-of-14 from the field. He finished with 17 points, but never hit his patent “swagger” shot that is typically followed by an onslaught of threes and soul-crushing jump shots.
Even Roy Hibbert was flat. Maybe it’s because he didn’t apply Bengay to his nether regions prior to tipoff, but he looked like a rookie against the Pistons’ frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. The one saving grace was Lance Stephenson, who went off for a career-high 23 points and even hit a big 3-pointer with 1:17 left to cut the Pistons’ lead to 96-94.
But no one could stop Detroit’s Josh Smith. Typically, defenders are completely fine with Smith taking jump shots and 3-point shots all day long because he is historically a terrible shooter. Smith went 13-of 29, including 1-of-4 from three, and finished with 30 points. To start the third quarter, Smith hit four straight shots to give you an idea about the night he had.
Smith wasn’t the only reason why the Pistons prevailed. Their big man group of Monroe, Drummond and Josh Harrellson grabbed a total of 31 rebounds, including 15 offensive boards. The Pacers were out-rebounded 55-40 total and 20-9 on the offensive glass.
For a team with the best defense in the NBA and who was the best rebounding team last year, the Pacers were out-hustled and outplayed all night. The Pistons were 11-14 entering the game and winners of two out of their last six games, so it’s safe to say this was the Pacers’ first, and hopefully only bad loss of the year.