The Pistons shot a season-high 54.7 percent and had seven players in double figures and snapped a 12-game home losing streak in front of a spirited crowd at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
While the Pistons were likely to play with energy and intensity no matter what big shakeup was made, the way the game opened up without Smith was noticeable.
It's as if Smith was just sucking up all of the oxygen in the arena and it had an impact on the Pistons' big men and its point guards. With Smith gone Detroit ran it's offense primarily through it's guards and Brandon Jennings and D.J. Augustin looked more than up to the task. Jennings had 14 points, 10 assists and one turnover. Augustin added 14 points, eight assists and one turnover.
The big men, however, also had an opportunity to shine with Smith out of the picture. Drummond again had a lot of touches on the offensive end but he looked confident with the ball, wasting little time in making a decisive move to the basket. Going against defensive stalwart Roy Hibbert, Drummond had 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting and looked dominant. Greg Monroe, meanwhile, was back in the starting lineup and doing some Moosey things. He finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and a block and even added some solid 15-footers that he rarely pulls out of his bag of tricks.
The offense was evenly spread all around the floor with eight players attempting between seven and 13 shots. Jodie Meeks had the ball put in his hands and he responded with some strong drives to the basket and smart decisions with the ball. He scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in 15 points and Jonas Jerebko, solidly in the rotation as the primary power forward off the bench, added six rebound and 10 points in 28 minutes, including a back-breaking 22-footer put the Pistons up 13 with just under two minutes to play.
The Palace crowd roared with approval comfortable, for once, that the team was walking away with a victory. Finally the fans were able to see some real Detroit basketball.
The Pacers were led by a strong night from Roy Hibbert with 19 points including 9-of-10 from the line. For as great as Drummond played tonight he wasn't nearly strong enough against Hibbert on defense. For all the talk about Dre's developing offensive game, it is much more important that he get stronger on defense.
Former Piston Rodney Stuckey scored 9 points and had the makings of a nice game before he left the game with a facial contusion after being poked in the eye by Drummond. Stuckey writhed in pain on the floor for several moments before getting up and being taken immediately to the locker room.
I was manning Twitter and never checked in on the game thread, but seeing that Mike Payne topped the list with 98 gems, I think I'm gonna have to give it a look-see.