Yes, they were playing their second game of a road back-to-back, but don't accept that as a valid excuse. The Pistons--with their full compliment of players--should always be able to beat a Pacers team without the services of Jermaine O'Neal, Austin Croshere, and Jamal Tinsley, regardless of how tired their legs may be. Instead, despite the best efforts of Rip and Sheed, the Pistons slept their way to a 93-85 loss to the Pacers last night.
Thinking too hard about this game impairs my ability to organize my thoughts in complete paragraphs, so I'm going to resort to the tired numbered list of observations to recap the loss.
1.) Aside from Rip, who was the Pistons best player last night, Sheed was responsible for the Pistons being close in the fourth. He was amazing down low against the Pacers' vaunted frontcourt tandem of Jeff Foster and Scot Pollard (please, I beg of you, pick up the sarcasm I'm putting down). And while the box score shows that Sheed shot only 5-15 from the field (2-5 from 3-point range), his five blocks and physical play (leading to a few trips to the free throw line down the stretch) provided at least a few signs of life late.
2.) The Pacers had 25 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Pistons 59-44. Jeff Foster had 8 points and 12 rebounds (7 offensive boards). Scot Pollard had 6 and 14. Ben Wallace? 0 and 12. It is tough to win a game when your All-Star center is the fifth best big man on the floor. It won't happen every night, but Ben looked off last night. Remember, his game is not only measured by how many boards he grabs, but how few offensive boards he allows the opposing big men.
3.) This was a tough night for Chauncey. Quietly, he has been in a bit of a shooting slump as of late, averaging only 13 points on only 19 of 56 shooting over his last five games. I say quietly because even though Chauncey has been struggling with the shot, he's been able to consistently get his teammates involved and rack up 5+ dimes a night. Last night: 3 assists to go along with 3 turnovers.
4.) There were a lot of Piston fans who last summer were hoping that Danny Granger would be drafted prior to the Pacers picking him up at #17. Last night, we saw why. Granger went for 11 points and 9 boards on an efficient 5 of 9 shooting night. He will play a part in any Indiana push for the playoffs this season.
5.) After a couple days off, the Pistons will play yet another back-to-back starting Tuesday night on the road against Atlanta and then back in Detroit for the Clips on Wednesday. After dropping two games to rivals this past week, let's hope the relatively innocuous Hawks and Clips provide the Pistons a chance to get back to their winning ways.