It was a tale of two quarters in half number one. Detroit couldn’t miss in the first one. It was an extension of last game against the Knicks where Detroit assisted on just about every bucket. The ball movement was crisp and was zipping here and there. Luke Kennard scored all 14 of his first-half points in the first frame. He got into the teeth of the defense and drilled jumper after jumper. You began to think that Luke and the Pistons just really had Indiana’s number this season.
The second quarter was the beginning of the end. Open shots weren’t falling, turnovers were more prevalent, and Indiana more than took advantage. There was very little interior defense played tonight by Detroit, which, it makes sense, is result of poor perimeter defense, too. Flat out, Detroit gave up too many easy looks whether it was Indiana driving to the basket like a walk in the park or Indiana getting tip-in after tip-in.
It all really went sour when Andre Drummond picked up his third foul — 45 feet from the basket —in the second and was on the bench for the rest of the quarter. He had hit a few buckets and seemed to have an overall groove going. In 15 first-half minutes Andre was a team-high +15, with his hand-print on a big part of the game.
From that benching on, Andre never really got into any kind of flow again, partly because of his and the Pistons’ careless play and partly because Domantas Sabonis’ strong and consistent 39 minutes on both ends of the court. Indiana was up by as many as 17 in the second half, though eventually Detroit cut it to six with just under two minutes left, but couldn’t hit the big shot or get the big stop.
Langston Galloway did his best to prop up a listless bench tonight, scoring 19 points on just 11 shots. He battled on both ends and continues to be a useful and consistent spark-plug off the pine. Langston has scored in double-figures in six straight games.
Indiana’s bench was just unstoppable, especially T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott. They combined for 33 points and missed just five shots between them. McConnell took over the game for a chunk of the second half and helped keep the Pistons at bay, even with their 34-point fourth quarter. I swear I read McConnell’s lips — after scoring his third or fourth straight basket — as “he can’t guard me”. I don’t know if he was referring to Svi Mykhailiuk or Bruce Brown. Either way, the Pistons couldn’t guard McConnell tonight.
Luke finished with 29 points on 21 shots, adding six rebounds and five assists.
Detroit (4-6) plays next at home Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.