Pistons fend off comeback by Pacers
INDIANAPOLIS — Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy insisted the thought never crossed his mind about how his team blew a 22-point lead in a collapse last month at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
But as the Indiana Pacers rallied late once again, quickly cutting a 16-point deficit to just two in the final quarter, Pistons players admittedly experienced deja vu, at least for an anxious moment or two.
“We felt it coming again, but we were like, ‘Nah, not today,’” forward Stanley Johnson said of the Pistons holding of the Pacers for a 104-98 road victory.
Guard Reggie Jackson hit two key free throws to provide a 102-98 lead with 18.1 seconds remaining.
Pistons center Andre Drummond, who scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, blocked Victor Oladipo’s step-back 3-point attempt on the next possession to seal the win. Drummond also added a three-point play off an offensive rebound basket down the stretch.
“When he’s playing like that, being a monster, this is our guy,” forward Reggie Bullock said of the 6-11, 279-pound Drummond. “When his energy is up the team’s energy is up and we just feed off him.”
Bullock contributed a season-high 15 points.
“We had a tough fourth quarter, but we were able to just grind it out,” Van Gundy said.
The Pistons (16-13) were not able to do that on Nov. 17, when they lost 107-100 at Indiana despite leading by 10 entering the final quarter. This time, the lead reached 16 in the final quarter before the Pacers (16-13) made it interesting with a 9-0 run.
“I don’t know what’s up with us,” said Pacers center Myles Turner, who had 24 points and eight rebounds. “It’s like we play better coming from behind, but we can’t be that team coming down the stretch. We can’t put ourselves in that position.”
Oladipo led Indiana with 26 points, but the Pistons made him work for it with 8-of-22 shooting.
“The thing about basketball is you’re going to be put in that position more than once,” Oladipo said of the Pacers’ inability to finish late. “Sometimes you’re going to come out on top, sometimes you’re not. The biggest thing is you just can’t get too down on yourself and you just got to continue to keep lifting each other up. Stay positive. Stay aggressive.”
The Pistons won their second straight road game on back-to-back nights after enduring a seven-game losing streak.
“We were able to win on the road and hold a great offensive team to under 100 points,” Van Gundy said, “so I’m really proud of the guys.”
The Pacers lost their second consecutive home game after a four-game winning streak.
“The third quarter, we normally have good starts,” Pacers guard Darren Collison said of the Pistons opening the second half on a 7-0 run. “We’ve got to be better. No excuses. We’ve got to be better.”
Thaddeus Young scored 12 points for Indiana and Collison added 10.
NOTES: Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy celebrated his 500th career NBA victory. ... Pistons C Andre Drummond had his 20th double-double of the season. ... NBA Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, father of Pacers F Domantas Sabonis, was in attendance to watch his son play. ... The Pistons defeated the Pacers for just the second time in 11 meetings and snapped a six-game losing streak at Indiana. ... Pistons rookie G Luke Kennard scored nine points in his first career NBA start as Avery Bradley rested with a hip injury. ... The Pacers concluded a six-game homestead that was the franchise’s longest since a six-game stretch in 2007. ... Pacers C Myles Turner, the league leader in blocked shots (2.43 blocks per game), extended a streak of at least one blocked shot to 26 consecutive games, third longest in team history.