The Detroit Pistons Friday night came out firing on all cylinders, leading the Indiana Pacers 32-23 after one quarter and taking a 58-47 lead into halftime.
Luke Kennard led the first half bench brigade with four buckets (two from downtown) in six tries, en route to 10 first half points for the recently silky shooting rookie. Luke also had two steals and led the Pistons in minutes played in the half with 17. All told, the Pistons bench went 6-for-9 from downtown while outscoring the Pacers bench 28-to-6 in the opening 24 minutes. Vets Darren Collison and Thaddeus Young kept the Pacers within striking distance with efficient efforts of 11 and 13 points, respectively.
Barely before you could settle down and mentally get yourself ready for the second half, Pacers scored seven straight points and you just knew the Pistons were in for a battle.
And as everybody and their brother already knows -- basketball is a game of runs. Yes, it is.
In just a blink of an eye the Pistons shot up to a 22-point lead with about five minutes left in the third. Stanley Johnson drained a corner three (his only basket of the game in nine tries). Reggie Jackson was zipping the ball around every which-way so effortlessly. Bradley swished a step-back three. Tobias Harris had an emphatic block in the lane. Andre Drummond denied Myles Turner at the rim. The energy and pace of the game seemed to be in Detroit’s favor.
However, the Pacers, led by a strong quarter from Victor Oladipo, showed zero quit and finished the quarter strong, trailing by only 10 entering the final quarter.
With just over three minutes gone in the fourth the Pacers were within one point, but then Ish Smith went to work and continuously sliced his way into the lane, scoring on several pretty drives in a row.
But wouldn't you know it, the Pacers made another quick run and Lance Stephenson knocked in a three to draw the Pacers within one again (with 5:33 left in the game). Pacers didn't waste much time and took the lead shortly thereafter and made it 95-92. After falling behind 97-95 after a couple of quick Harris buckets, Darren Collison continued his solid game with a three pointer and the Pacers never relinquished the lead from then on. Detroit just couldn’t get Harris more opportunities, turning the ball over and putting up some tough shots.
The Pacers outscored Detroit by 17 in the final quarter. They also shot 15-for-28 (53.6 percent) from three point land for the game.
Lance Stephenson coming into the night wasn't playing very solid basketball, but did he ever have a thrilling and productive fourth quarter. He scored all 13 of his points in the frame and got a ton of ferocious rebounds. He fired up the Indiana crowd only like Lance can.
Detroit will try to turn their two-game slide around in Minneapolis against the T-Wolves Sunday night at 7:00 pm.