Post-Game Grades: Pacers Play Entitled, Get Overmatched by Pistons


The Pacers apparently didn’t read the scouting report tonight. I wasn’t in the locker room or anything, but I’m guessing the fact that Detroit has Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe came up. Also, I bet Frank Vogel informed his squad that the Pistons are the best offensive rebounding team in the NBA.

What did Indiana do with this information?

They went out in the first half and allowed the Pistons to gather up 14 offensive rebounds on 29 missed field goals. That’s not cool. There were some strange bounces on errant attempts by the Pistons, but there were plenty of other misses that should have been grabbed by Pacers’ players — who were a step slow or slow to anticipate angles for most of the evening.

Other things happened in the game — Josh Smith put a damper on some decent defense early in the third and generally just made some good shots all night. And some fans will certainly point to a controversial inbounds play that happened just as the Pacers Lance Stephenson mounted a last-ditch comeback effort. The Pistons took too long to throw it in, probably upwards of 6 seconds instead of the legally allowable 5. But that’s not exactly the most essential rule in this sport, and when you play that poorly for that long, you’re not going to be able to expect every call to go your way.

So thems the breaks, and it certainly had less to do with the loss than, say, the 3-for-17 shooting Indiana’s starting front court managed in the first half. Or the 12 points in the paint the entire team put up in that half. Or the 5 offensive boards they let Josh Harrelson get in that same half. Or the fact that had new-rotation-member Rasual Butler not hit two threes in that same half the team would have been down by 13 heading into the break.

Indiana play better over the final 24 minutes, shooting 50.0% from the field and keeping Detroit from feasting on second-chance points. Their marquee players still couldn’t put points up efficiently, however, and Paul George forced a few threes that didn’t help his team’s chances.

None of it was enough to overcome the first-half blahs.

You don’t want to diminish the effort, good play and talent of these Pistons. They nearly beat the Trail Blazers last night, and they are just a skilled bunch. They can beat any team on any night, despite what might be suggested by their middling record and all the jokes about the East teams other than Indiana and Miami.

Still, Indiana just had two days off. (And, really, we can probably call it closer to five; they beat Miami last Tuesday and barely broke a sweat in their similarly lackluster effort against Charlotte on Friday.) There really isn’t much excuse to play that sluggishly in a first half against a team that suffered an emotional loss last night.

It’s just one game. No big deal. 20-4 and 21-3 aren’t significantly different.

But this is now two games in a row in which Indiana has sleepwalked through the bulk of the game. The Bobcats are ability-challenged enough that the Pacers were able to refocus late and come away with a win. The Pistons are not.

I doubt this becomes some lasting mentality, but they have played the past two games like they expected to win. They played with the urgency I would expect from an entitled bunch who has been buying into their own power ranking position and believing that the East has nobody but Miami that is for real.

Again, I doubt this is anything but a blip in the schedule — if it is even what has been the cause of the past two games’ worth of mediocre play. But it’s probably for the best that they face Miami again on Wednesday, so they can again head into a game on a mission — you know, the way they looked almost every night in November, no matter what jerseys the opponents were wearing.

UPDATE: There is also this.



Detroit Pistons 101 Final
Recap | Box Score
96 Indiana Pacers
David West, PF 28 MIN | 6-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -7

Missed a bunch of shots in the fourth that you expect to go down. Obviously was a main culprit in the defensive rebounding woes.

Paul George, SF 39 MIN | 4-14 FG | 8-8 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -6

Yowzers. Two straight games for Pauly Infallible. Forced some shots. Did his share of rebounding at least.

Roy Hibbert, C 35 MIN | 2-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | 0

Worst game of the seasons statistically, I would have to guess. Treated the glass like someone who is afraid of glass, a glassaphobe, perhaps, they are called, he writes using all the effort on this simile that Indiana showed tonight on the boards. Got elbowed in the mouth and bled from his teeth so you have to at least feel for the big guy on that one. Ouch.

George Hill, PG 32 MIN | 2-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | -2

Wasn’t aware he suited up for this one.

Lance Stephenson, SG 40 MIN | 9-14 FG | 4-5 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 23 PTS | -6

Regular season career high in points and was the main cog of the offense in the third when he was making shots, dunking the ball, yelling at the crowd and getting layups for others. Regular ball of energy.

Luis Scola, PF 20 MIN | 8-11 FG | 2-4 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +2

Scored the first 10 points for Indiana in the fourth quarter. His jumper was really the only reason this stayed close. More rebounds would have helped but at least he got his mistakes back on the other end.

Ian Mahinmi, C 12 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3

What would you say you *do* here?

C.J. Watson, PG 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -3

Hit a few shots, did some dribbling, made some passes and stuff.

Rasual Butler, SG 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -1

Another adequate effort from a guy who just (temporarily) joined the rotation.

Orlando Johnson, SG 4 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1

Another inadequate effort from a guy who just (seemingly) continued his slide out of the rotation.

Topics: Game Recap

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  • Guest

    Our rebounding has fallen off since last year, but it hasn’t been questioned too much since our record has been sparkling and our defence has remained elite.

    Going to the Pacers ESPN Clubhouse and seeing “1st” under both rebounding and opponent PPG was a given last year. This year it’s just the latter. BOX OUT

  • jsmithson1882 .

    They’ll be alright. Shots weren’t falling (West & PG), balls were bouncing the other way, and they got outhustled. It happens. I expect them to bounce back at Miami, but the sky isn’t falling if they go down there and get beat. A win would be huge mentally though.

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  • Ian

    This was a frustrating and depressing game. The worst all season. Every other loss was against a premier team (Bulls with D-Rose at the time, Portland, OkC), on the second half of a back to back on the road.

    Entitled is right. I’ve felt it coming for awhile. The rebounding problems have been there all season and its been getting worse, and it feels like given this is the same squad from last year that it’s all about effort. If I was Vogel I’d spend all practice today on box out drills. I’ve also noticed that PG mopes more on defense when he’s not getting his points, something that never used to happen, though he pulled it together in the 2nd half last night.

    Finally, they need to work on their schemes against penetrating point guards. Hill is obviously supposed to funnel them into Roy, but if Roy is protecting the paint, then someone needs to pick up his man. Way too often his man is left all alone for an easy dish and dunk.

  • Earl Malmsteen

    I take a different perspective on this game. Basically everything that could have gone wrong for the Pacers did. George had a terrible game all around, Hibbert and West missed a bunch of shots they normally make, and the Pistons seemed to get almost every 50/50 ball, including tons of offensive rebounds when the Pacers really did box out and just didn’t get the bounce. Giving up 100+ is unacceptable, but when that is Brandon Jennings hitting pullup 3s and Josh Smith shooting 50% on mostly contested 10 foot hooks or 20 foot jump shots, you just have to say it was their night.

    It is disappointing that this is really the first game the Pacers had no business losing that they actually lost, but otherwise I can’t find too much to get worked up about except that they appeared too tentative on offense at times, especially PG and Hibbert. It just seemed between the Pistons playing well and our stars missing very make-able shots that this was just that 5% of weird games you lose for no reason.

    • Ian

      You are entitled to your opinion but I think you are watching this with rose colored glasses. You don’t luck into 20 offensive rebounds. There were a couple that were lucky bounces, but most of the case they were situations where the Pistons players were jumping and crashing for the balls and the Pacers were standing around. Jennings 3 was the sort of thing that happens at random every game, he was 2 for 5 overall from 3 not particularly lucky, and Smith was 13 for 29. Meanwhile the Pacers caught a break with Drummond limited to 21 minutes due to foul trouble and Scola going 8 for 11.

      If the Pacers take the attitude you are suggesting and chalk this up to bad luck they are going to lose a LOT more games like this one.

      • djmcba

        We did get waxed on the boards last night but if you look at about half of the ORBs they were terribly missed shots that careened awkwardly back to the Pistons. There was one series where the Pistons woefully missed two shots and ended up scoring by lucky bounces on rebounds.

        You are definitely right that we need to work on hitting the boards but some of that has to do with finding the right balance on getting into transition. If your team isn’t a transition threat, opponents can crash the offensive glass. I’d like to see us push it a little more (really only Lance does so to effect) to make teams wary of us getting out when they crash the glass. You also have to take into account the volume of missed shots we force creating more ORB opportunities.

        I think the right answer is probably between your and Earl’s opinion. The loss highlighted some areas for improvement but it’s also 1 out of 82 on a night when the ball isn’t bouncing your way AND JSmoove is hitting jumpers (the basketball gods don’t shine on a jumpshooting jsmoove too often).

        That said, I will gladly accept this turd of a loss if we show out in Miami.

      • Earl Malmsteen

        I understand how to read the box score. My perception simply watching the game as well was that the Pistons were generally taking much tougher shots than the Pacers were. Against good teams like POR and SA and LAC and MIA, the Pacers were giving up a lot more easy shots regularly than last night. Bottom line imo is if the Pacers and Pistons played 100 times, this seems to me to be in the worst 10% of possible games for the Pacers rather than strong evidence of a serious systematic failure to rebound well. This opinion is backed up by the numbers which show the Pistons and Pacers being similar rebounding teams. On the season the Pacers are 6th in rebound rate, and the Pistons are 3rd, the difference between them being literally less than one half of one percent of all rebounds.

        If you are right and this is a huge problem, I would expect the Pacers’ rebounding rate to fall significantly further and the losses to pile up. Until then, I’m willing to look at the whole body of work and not claim the sky is falling on the basis of one game. I agree last night was a bad game on the boards, but saying anything about their long-term outlook based on that seems short sighted, particularly for a team that is over 1/4 the way into the season and just lost their first game they shouldn’t have lost. Just look at the teams the Heat have lost to this year and tell me we should be that worried about losing at home to Detroit.

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  • Jack Wright

    Seems like we spent that 3-game home stand in cruise control. We didn’t even play impressively against the Heat. Not too worried about it, though. We’ll blow the Pistons out the next time we see ‘em.

    PG has been playing much better on the road this season. Not sure what to think about it. It’s the opposite of Lance and Hill. I’m looking for him to have a big game in Miami tomorrow.

    Also I’m not liking the whole ankle-twist storyline going on with Lebron right now. I’d rather him play and be at 110% so our victory tomorrow can be as savory as possible. If he does play, it’ll be interesting to watch His Fakeness play it up as if he’s courageously overcoming a frustrating injury as he leads his team to a statement win over the talk-too-much Pacers, or, if the opposite happens, to see him wince in severe agony every trip down the floor in order to compensate for his team’s impending loss.

    • Realist

      Yeah, the Lebron injury is very annoying.

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