Pistons vs. Pacers Game Preview - April 2, 2014
Regular Season Game #75The Indiana Pacers are falling apart with the playoffs just over two weeks away.
The slumping Pacers try to get back on track Wednesday night as they go for an eighth win in nine matchups against the visiting Detroit Pistons.
Indiana (52-23) has dropped three straight and five of six to fall into second place in the Eastern Conference, percentage points behind Miami. While the Pacers were at one point focused on securing home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, they're just looking to right the ship.
"I don't know if we're putting a whole lot of emphasis on the No. 1 seed, of late," coach Frank Vogel said. "We're focused on winning the next game and finding a rhythm. Seeding right now is the last thing on our team's mind."
The Pacers saw their woes continue in an ugly 103-77 loss to San Antonio on Monday, tied for their most lopsided defeat of the season. Indiana failed to score in transition, was outscored 42-28 in the paint and outrebounded 15-7 on the offensive glass.
Paul George, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson were the only three Pacers to score in double figures, posting a combined 46 points. Indiana, which finished with 14 assists, is now 1-10 in 2014 when recording less than 17.
"Their togetherness really showed, that's where they beat us," All-Star Paul George said of the NBA-leading Spurs. "That was a team that's all together playing as one, the team that we were to start the year."
The Pacers have shot 36.8 percent over the last six games while averaging 77.2 points - 19.6 less than their season average. They suffered a season-worst four consecutive defeats March 4-9, and are 6-10 in their last 16.
"It's awful, we've been in a downward spiral and we've been splintering a little bit," Hibbert said. "We've had plenty of players-only meetings and plenty of sit-downs as a team with coaches and we've had some upper management in here, so I don't know. Maybe we should all go to group therapy or something, sit down with Dr. (Chris) Carr and figure out some of our grievances."
George, leading the team with 21.7 points per game, is averaging just 16.1 while shooting 31.8 percent over the last eight.
"I think some guys are struggling to find a little bit of a rhythm," Vogel said. "Part of that may be confidence but … team's go in and out of being in a good rhythm. It happens to every team every year. You just have to work every day and find it."
The Pacers are 16-4 in their last 20 against the Pistons, going 10-1 during an 11-game stretch on their own court. That lone defeat, though, came 101-96 on Dec. 16, snapping Indiana's franchise-best 11-0 start at home.
The Pacers more recently pulled out a 112-104 overtime victory at Detroit on March 15. George scored 30 points as Indiana stormed back from 25 down in the second quarter.
The Pistons (27-47) are coming off a rare win, 116-111 over Milwaukee on Monday. Greg Monroe had a season high-tying 28 points and 14 rebounds, and Josh Smith scored 15 of his 26 in the fourth quarter. Brandon Jennings also came up big with 20 points and 13 assists.
Detroit, which trailed by six with under six minutes to go against the league's worst team, improved to 6-18 since Jon Loyer replaced Maurice Cheeks as coach Feb. 9.
"Getting a win tonight feels good," center Andre Drummond said. "Everybody's happy in the locker room but we have the rest of the season to finish out, continue to play hard and try to win some more games."
The Pistons have allowed 111.1 points per game during a 1-14 slide on the road. Indiana is 35-2 when scoring at least 97.