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Pistons vs. Pacers final score: Short-handed Pistons fall to a superior Pacers team

Anemic offense, poor bench play and porous defense equal another loss to the Pacers

Indiana Pacers v Detroit Pistons Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

If there was any doubt about the importance of Blake Griffin, this recent 3 two-game slide should put the issue to rest. With Blake Griffin in the lineup, the Pistons can be a very good team and go toe-to-toe with just about anybody. Without Blake the team struggles to score, establish a rhythm and looks completely overmatched.

That was evident for the second straight game against the Indiana Pacers, who easily handled the Pistons 108-89 at Little Caesars Arena on Wednesday.

the Blake-less Pistons struggled again out of the gate — scoring only 15 points in the first quarter and 36 for the half. For the game Detroit shot just 38.8 percent overall.

After a slow start (just 18 first-quarter points themselves), the Pacers were able to find their groove and coast to victory. Five Pacers scored at least 14 points, led by Thaddeus Young’s 21. Indiana forced 20 turnovers and scored 62 points in the paint.

Andre Drummond tried his damndest to carry the Pistons, but when Dre is your No. 1 offensive option you know something isn’t quite clicking. The big man scored 28 points and 19 rebounds to go with three steals, three blocks and three assists.

The problem was nobody on Detroit could help him out. Wayne Ellington scored 24 thanks to a fourth-quarter flurry but no other Pistons made even half their shots, with the starting duo of Thon Maker and Bruce Brown combining for 45 minutes and two points on 0-of-7 shooting.

Not that the bench was any better. With Thon’s length, defense and energy moved to the starting lineup in place of Blake, the bench unit was all out of whack. Zaza Pachulia and Jon Leuer combined to play 13 putrid minutes off the bench (0 points for both) and Langston Galloway, Ish Smith and Luke Kennard combined to shoot 5-of-27.

Frankly, it’s amazing the deficit was only eight points with just under seven minutes to go. But then Indiana stopped playing around and the superior team put away the inferior one.

Detroit’s loss combined with a predictable Orlando win against the lowly New York Knicks makes the race at the bottom of the Eastern Conference a little too close for comfort. Detroit (39-39) remains the sixth seed, but are only a half-game up on both the Brooklyn Nets and Magic. Miami sits in ninth a full game back of Detroit.

The Pistons have another tough road test against the Oklahoma City Thunder before finishing the year with home games against the Hornets and Grizzlies and then a road contest against the Knicks.

If they go 4-0 they are the sixth seed and make the playoffs with a likely matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. Let’s just cut the BS and root for that.