The Indiana Pacers are playing some of their best basketball under interim coach Frank Vogel but suffered consecutive losses heading into the All-Star break, including an overtime defeat to the Detroit Pistons.
After a dominant performance in their first game back, the Pacers have a chance to avenge that loss and record their sixth win in seven home contests Wednesday night.
The Pacers (25-30) had won seven of their first eight games after Vogel took over for Jim O’Brien on Jan. 30, but fell 110-103 at home to Miami on Feb. 15. They followed with a 115-109 overtime loss at Detroit the next evening, ending a six-game win streak over their Central Division rivals.
Indiana rallied from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter to send it to the extra period, but was outscored 11-5 over those five minutes. The Pacers allowed the Pistons to shoot 51.5 percent and finish a point shy of matching their season scoring high.
“Sometimes a team goes on vacation one game early for the All-Star break, and this is what happens,” forward Danny Granger said. “We didn’t do anything on defense and we got beat.”
Indiana had a much better defensive showing in a 113-96 win in Washington on Tuesday, limiting the Wizards to 39.8 percent shooting. Granger scored 21 points and Roy Hibbert had 16 after tying a career high with 29 in the loss to Detroit.
All 12 players who saw the floor scored in Tuesday’s win, and the Pacers benefited from 26 fast-break points in the first three quarters.
“There’s a lot of talk around the NBA about the super-teams and the powerhouses and all that,” Vogel said. “We don’t have any of those super-superstars, but we’ve got 15 guys that can play, and our depth is going to win us a lot of games.”
The Pistons, meanwhile, suffered their fourth loss in five games, 108-100 to visiting Houston on Tuesday, despite getting 56 points from their bench.
Detroit (21-37) used some of those to rally from an 11-point deficit – after leading by as much as 11 in the first half – but was outscored 15-6 over the final 3:53.
Will Bynum had a team-best 21 points off the bench, and Rodney Stuckey was the top scorer among the Pistons starters with 19. Tayshaun Prince, who had 25 points against Indiana, missed all nine of his field goal attempts and finished with one point.
“This is one of those rare games that he didn’t have it going as much,” coach John Kuester said. “We had to have some other people step up and I thought we did.”
Granger had it going in the loss to Detroit with 28 points, and he’s averaged 29.1 in his last nine matchups.
With his help, the Pacers are hoping to earn their fifth consecutive home win over the Pistons.
“We can’t give up games that we’re supposed to win,” Granger said. “We’re really trying to move up to either the seven or the six seed, which we can do. It’s just a matter of putting a lot of wins together.”
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