On the second end of a back-to-back, the Pistons were already bound to rely on their bench. But Kentavious Caldwell left after just three minutes in the first quarter with a sore Achilles, putting even more pressure on the second unit.
Though Caldwell-Pope missed the rest of the game, it doesn't look to be serious - good news for fans still reeling from Brandon Jennings' season ending injury.
The Pistons barely snuck into halftime with a one-point lead after trailing through most of the first half. They fell behind by as many as eight points, but kept in contact thanks to shooting 7-11 from behind the arc.
It was a rough game for the starting unit.
The Pacers opened the game hitting 7 of their first 8 shots, then the Pistons gave up a big run out of halftime to quickly surrender their lead. The Pacers got as far as 12 points away in the third quarter before the Pistons started chipping away.
It was once again behind the second unit that the Pistons closed the gap, surging to the lead in the fourth quarter.
With a Stan Van Gundy and Frank Vogel matchup, you wouldn't typically expect a shoot-out. The Pacers constantly knocked down clutch shots, but they couldn't manage to put the Pistons away as they responded with big shots of their own.
One of the biggest came with the Pacers again threatening to pull away from the Pistons with a 6 point lead with under 7 minutes to go, Caron Butler connected on a long three, drew contact, and completed the four point play to hand a two point lead back to the starters.
The Pacers picked up where they left off in beating up on the starters to finally finish the Pistons off. But even to the end, Detroit never made it easy.
The bench carried the Pistons with even more players finishing in double digits than the starters.
With KCP out, the Pistons leaned heavily on Jodie Meeks throughout and he responded with his best game in a fortnight. But Anthony Tolliver was even more critical for the Pistons finishing with 12 points on 5 shots and offering some excellent defense and energy.
It was John Lucas who handled all of the backup point guard minutes for the Pistons and turned in a very nice performance with 10 points and 6 rebounds. Stan Van Gundy dug deep into his bench, even turning to Joel Anthony and Cartier Martin for minutes.
Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond were the only starters to offer much of a performance, combining for 34 points and 25 rebounds. But their counterparts David West and Roy Hibbert also put up a very efficient 30 points and 19 rebounds.