Monday, December 5, 2022
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Preview: Indiana Pacers (6-9) at Detroit Pistons (3-10)

The Detroit Pistons have seen some wild swings in performance in recent games. The good news is they’re due for an upswing on Wednesday when they host the Indiana Pacers.

Detroit posted an eight-point victory at Houston last Wednesday, then was limited to 78 points in a 20-point loss at Cleveland on Friday.

The next night, the Pistons scored a season-high 127 points while downing Toronto by six. But upon returning home for a five-game homestand, the Pistons delivered another clunker Monday in a 22-point loss to Sacramento.

“We feel like we have times and stretches in some of our games where we’re playing really well,” reserve Josh Jackson said. “We try to just pinpoint those things and those feelings we had in moments when we are playing well and repeat them every game. That’s all we’re really trying to do — find our groove, find our swag and be able to come in and repeat some things every game.”

Against the Kings, the Pistons grew frustrated early when shots weren’t falling and trailed 31-12 entering the second quarter. Sacramento maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the game.

“The first quarter killed us,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We weren’t resilient enough to bounce back and overtake them. After that (quarter), the scoring was even the rest of the game.”

Top pick Cade Cunningham was a bright spot in the loss. He racked up a season-high 25 points and added eight rebounds and eight assists.

“His natural instinct is to be a ball mover, make plays for his teammates,” Casey said. “In turn, he gets a lot of opportunities because he does do that and he’s not predictable.”

Casey’s team now faces a Pacers club that leads the league in shot blocking at 6.5 per game. That’s mainly due to the presence of Myles Turner, who tops the league with a 3.3 average.

“You want to collapse the defense, but you want to look at your kickouts — on time, on target — make sure our shooters get a good pass,” Casey said. “Our rim decisions have to be pristine all night.”

The Pacers lost to the New York Knicks 92-84 on Monday in the opener of a three-game road trip. Indiana had won five of its previous seven games.

The Knicks’ defense smothered the Pacers in the fourth quarter, holding them to two field goals and 10 points. Indiana’s reserves were a non-factor throughout, contributing only 13 points.

“I thought their aggression made it tough on us,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We had some good looks that didn’t go down. And we had others that were not good. We were up against the shot clock a couple of times.”

New York finished the game on a 13-2 run, leaving the Pacers three games under .500.

“They out-toughed us,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “I take away that we still have growth, we still have to evolve, get better and be tougher on a consistent basis.”

This is the first of four meetings between the Central Division rivals. They also square off on Dec. 16, March 4 and April 3.

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