The Indiana Pacers are confident they’ll have a positive response to a 15-point loss on Wednesday. A matchup against a Central Division opponent saddled with a 12-game losing streak provides good reason for such optimism.
The Pacers lost at Milwaukee 114-99 but now go home to face a much softer opponent in the floundering Detroit Pistons.
Indiana was outscored 27-12 in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve had games like that where we came out and we didn’t execute like we wanted,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said. “Then we came out the next game and we did. We were a completely different team, and that’s what we’re going to do tomorrow.”
Indiana’s coach Rick Carlisle remains in COVID-19 protocols. But the Pacers’ biggest problem against the Bucks was turnovers. They committed 19, leading to 17 Milwaukee points, while forcing just nine.
“Our lack of execution, the turnovers, our inability to get stops was the issue,” acting coach Lloyd Pierce said.
Indiana has lost two straight following a three-game winning streak. The Pacers are six games below .500 and need to start making up ground soon in order to have a realistic shot at a playoff berth.
Their offense shut down during crunch time against the defending NBA champions. Coming off a 30-point game against Golden State, top scorer Domantas Sabonis took only 10 shots while scoring 16 points and also committed five turnovers.
“Obviously confidence is a part of everyone’s game. I think it’s a very confident group. It’s a high character group,” Pierce said. “They do really care about each other. It’s just when things just aren’t going our way, we’re trying to find that opportunity to get out of it. Usually the best way is to create energy with the basketball.”
The Pistons are two losses away from tying the franchise record for most consecutive defeats in a single season set in March 1980 and equaled in December 1993-January 1994.
Their scheduled game against Chicago on Tuesday was postponed due to COVID-19 issues among Bulls players.
That gave them a three-day break heading into Thursday’s matchup. In their last outing on Sunday, the Pistons were outscored 30-13 in the fourth quarter and fell to Brooklyn 116-104. Nets superstar Kevin Durant set a Little Caesars Arena record with 51 points.
Detroit was playing its first game since learning that leading scorer Jeremi Grant would be out at least six weeks due to a thumb injury.
Rookie Cade Cunningham had 26 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals but also committed seven turnovers. He went 5-for-8 beyond the arc and has made 47.6 percent of his 3-point attempts over the last six games.
“His 3-point shooting has really taken off,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I’m really impressed with the work he’s put in with his 3-point shooting. He struggled at first but he continued to work and stuck with it. … His 3-point shooting has come around quicker than anything.”
Cunningham scored 16 points when the Pistons defeated the Pacers 97-89 on Nov. 17. That’s the last time Detroit entered the win column.
“My main task is, no matter what the result is, we want to create winning habits,” Casey said.
–Field Level Media