Surging Pistons cruise past Pacers
DETROIT — Andre Drummond played a good half. That was all the streaking Detroit Pistons needed to finish off the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
Drummond picked up two early fouls and played tentatively the rest of the first half. The Detroit center got rolling after the break, scoring 10 of his 14 points and grabbing 14 of his 21 rebounds in the Pistons’ 114-97 victory at Little Caesars Arena.
“He was up and down with his energy tonight,” said Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy, whose team won for the sixth time in seven games. “Every game he’s been better in the second half than the first half. Why that is I don’t know.
“But in the second half, his energy is very consistent. In the first half, he has a little trouble getting out of the gate. In the second half, he really turned it on.”
Forward Tobias Harris was a more consistent force, scoring a game-high 23 points and snaring eight rebounds.
Reggie Jackson supplied 18 points and Avery Bradley had 14 for the Pistons (8-3). Detroit also got key contributions from three reserves. Langston Galloway had 12 points, Ish Smith added 10 and Boban Marjanovic chipped in nine.
The 7-foot-3 Marjanovic, who scored all of his points in the second quarter, was making just his second appearance of the season.
“The biggest thing is everybody in the locker room, when somebody else’s name is called, we expect them to be ready,” Harris said. “We’re happy for them to go out there and play their role and have a good game. Boban gave us a huge lift tonight.”
The Pistons shot 51.8 percent from the field, compared with 43.2 percent by the Pacers. Detroit also had a 50-38 rebounding advantage.
“Offensively, we played pretty well for most of the night,” Van Gundy said. “Defensively, especially in the second and fourth quarters, we were really good. We did enough to get by.”
Victor Oladipo pumped in 21 points and Al Jefferson scored a season-high 19 for the Pacers, who have lost four straight. Thaddeus Young added 16 points and Bojan Bogdanovic contributed 12 points with seven rebounds for Indiana (5-7).
The Pacers were playing the second end of a back-to-back, having lost to the New Orleans Pelicans 117-112 at home on Tuesday. Indiana coach Nate McMillan thought that played a role in the second half.
“They made some plays, and once again, we didn’t get the stops we needed,” he said. “It looked like we were a little fatigued tonight, and we just didn’t have enough.”
Oladipo thinks some of his teammates need to pick their heads up.
“You can’t really play this game without confidence,” he said. “No matter how many times you lose or how many times you miss, you have to remain confident or you can’t play this game.
“It stinks that we haven’t won in a while, but it’s a part of the game and it’s part of the NBA. How teams respond separates the good teams from the great teams, and we’ve got to figure out what kind of team we want to be.”
A quick outburst turned the game in the Pistons’ favor.
Oladipo’s steal and dunk tied the score at 65 midway through the third quarter. Detroit responded with 13 straight points.
Jackson scored the first five. Bradley and Harris drilled 3-pointers, and Drummond finished the surge with a put-back.
Indiana crept back within 82-75 heading into the fourth. Once again, the Pistons stretched the lead out with a spurt, scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter. Reggie Bullock and Anthony Tolliver made 3-pointers during the run.
Another Drummond put-back dunk made it 99-84 halfway through the quarter.
The Pacers scored the next eight points, capped by a Cory Joseph jumper. That was as close as Indiana came, as Jackson and Harris carried the Pistons the rest of the way.
The Pistons outscored the Pacers 37-22 in the second quarter to gain a 59-52 halftime lead.
NOTES: Pistons SF Stanley Johnson (right hip flexor strain) missed a game for the first time this season. PF Jon Leuer (left ankle sprain) sat out for the second consecutive game. ... Pacers PF Domantas Sabonis (right calf contusion) was sidelined for the second straight game. ... Indiana has won the teams’ past six meetings, including a four-game sweep last season. ... C Andre Drummond has all seven of the Pistons’ double-doubles this season. ... The Pistons continue their five-game homestand against Atlanta on Friday. Indiana plays at Chicago the same night.