Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. It’s just one game, but at this point, the Indiana Pacers will take it. After scoring more than 80 in just one of their last six games, the Pacers finally played unselfish basketball tonight, sharing the ball, driving and dishing, screening, boxing out and making cuts en route to a 101-94 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons, snapping an embarrassing three-game losing streak.
They shot nearly 50% from the field (49.4%), had 24 assists on 39 field goals, had 7 blocks and only committed 10 turnovers. Paul George was back in form tonight with 27 points on 9-19 shooting to go with 13 rebounds and 7 assists. But he didn’t force it tonight and passed when he had to. When the shot clock was slow to reset after an offensive rebound in the fourth quarter, George launched a three-pointer from 36 feet — and it hit nothing but net. It was that kind of a night for PG.
David West had 15, Roy Hibbert 11. George Hill had 12 and Lance Stephenson had 11, 5 and 4. The bench helped out once as well, led by tremendous play from Ian Mahinmi, who probably deserves the game ball for his 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks in just 19 minutes. Luis Scola had 9 and Evan Turner had 4, as CJ Watson sat out yet another game with that hamstring injury.
The Pistons were led by Josh Smith’s 24 and Greg Monroe’s 17 and 16.
The Pistons aren’t making the playoffs and don’t have much to play for, but they were still playing better than the Pacers, who have managed to keep lowering their “rock bottom” every game for the last three games, all sub-80 double-digit losses. But April is a new month, and hopefully this victory is something they can build on. They need to remind themselves that turning the corner is not a switch and that they must continue to play unselfishly and improve so they can be playing the right way entering the playoffs.
I’m not ready to declare them “back” just yet, considering that they reverted to their old ways immediately after their two most recent victories over the Bulls and the Heat. But at least it’s something to build on. Friday’s game against the Raptors in Toronto will be a much sterner test. The Raps just beat Houston tonight and are battling the Bulls for the third seed in the East. The Pacers also haven’t won on the road since March 15 against Detroit in OT. If the standings stay the way they are the game could be a potential second round preview.