Reality Check: Pacers 105, Pistons 93

What Happened:

Any momentum we thought the Pistons gained from Wednesday's win against the Celtics went right out the window with this atrocity against a not-very-good Pacers team. The Pistons lack of energy to start each half made all the difference tonight -- the Pacers went on a 14-0 run near the start of the first and started the third with an 11-0 run.  The rest of the game was back-and-forth mediocrity.  

The Pacers hit nine three-pointers to the Pistons one and shot above 50% for most of the game (until garbage time), while Detroit was under 40%.

The Good:

Rip scored a game-high 27 points on 9-17 shooting, with five rebounds and three assists.  He did have seven turnovers, but I tend to think his 27 points played a much bigger role in keeping the Pistons within 30 points tonight.  Though the turnovers need to come down, it was encouraging to see him bounce back from a pretty awful game on Wednesday.

The Bad: 

We could talk about Charlie Villanueva (1-9 shooting, minus-22 in 20 minutes) or maybe Rodney Stuckey (3-13 shooting, minus-25).  The Pacers allow on average 104 points per game compared to their 99.  You can pick two of our best scoring options as the bad or you can pick the defense.  Either way, tonight's loss was the real 'bad.'

The Chuck Nevitt Unsung Hero:

Jonas Jerebko.  He didn't have the gaudy numbers in the box score, but he played every second of his with the utmost effort and is deserving of some props here (and probably should have gone under "The Good").  He finished with 14 points on 7-12 shooting and seven rebounds off the bench.  He also didn't back down from Danny Granger who was all hot and bothered by the rookie Swede actually playing hard. 

The Takeaway:

The Pistons can't lose games like this if they are serious about earning a playoff spot.  Wednesday's win could have been a turning point in the right direction for that mission, instead they probably took a step back with this loss.  

On the flip side, losses like this can happen.  The Pacers were probably due to get back over the 100 point clip after a few losses under that mark in a row.  The Pistons had won four of their last five and were probably still riding high from Wednesday's game.  They got caught sleep walking tonight, but if the Pistons go 4-2 in every six-game stretch for the rest of the season, they're going to make the playoffs.  That's the brightest side that you can take from a game like this.

They play less than 24 hours from now against the Blazers, so they'll need to win another back end of a back-to-back to take some of the sting away from this one.  They've won their last two since starting the season 1-8 in them.  Let's hope they can make it three. 

UPDATE:    

via Detroit News:

Prince got into a shouting match with coach John Kuester and had to be restrained with 7:16 left in the game when Kuester pulled his starters and emptied the bench. The Pacers led 97-74 at the time.

Awesome, Tayshaun.  Welcome back.

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