Pacers look to cool off hot-starting Pistons

DETROIT — The Detroit Pistons got a little extra time to mull over their quick start. Coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t want his team to draw any conclusions from a 10-game sample.

The Pistons (7-3) are off to their best start since the 2008-09 season, and they trail only the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings. Following a three-day break, Detroit resumes its five-game homestand against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday at Little Caesars Arena.

“I wouldn’t feel comfortable if we were 80 games in,” Van Gundy said. “I think it’s important for all our players to resist feeling comfortable. Never think, ‘Oh, we’ve turned the corner’ or ‘We’ve found the answer.’”

Van Gundy apparently found an answer to the team’s previously stagnant offense. Rather than running pick-and-rolls on virtually every half-court set, the Pistons are relying more on ball and player movement. Detroit ranks 10th in the NBA in field-goal percentage at 46.0 percent.

“Everybody likes the fact that everybody’s involved,” Van Gundy said. “There’s nobody standing around.”

Center Andre Drummond has the ball in his hands with greater frequency, and he is enjoying his expanded role. Drummond is averaging 14 points on 54.5 percent shooting and a career-high 2.7 assists.

“I think Andre does feel like he’s even more a part of the offense, certainly in a different way, but more a part of the offense,” Van Gundy said. “I think he feels like we’re playing to his strengths. He loves to handle the ball, and now he’s getting a chance to do that.”

Detroit’s depth at the forward spots could be tested against the Pacers. Backup power forward/center Jon Leuer will miss his second consecutive game with an ankle sprain. Starting small forward Stanley Johnson is questionable with a hip flexor injury. Johnson sat out a majority of the second half in the Pistons’ 108-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Saturday and couldn’t get through a full practice Tuesday.

Anthony Tolliver, Henry Ellenson, Reggie Bullock and Luke Kennard could see additional playing time in Detroit’s frontcourt.

The Pacers (5-6) carry a three-game losing streak to Michigan. They lost 117-112 at home to the New Orleans Pelicans on Tuesday.

Finding offensive answers during crunch time is one of the major issues confronting the Pacers. After trading All-Star Paul George to Oklahoma City during the offseason, Indiana has gone to a committee approach.

“We try to look at the situation and how guys are playing and try to take advantage of matchups,” coach Nate McMillan told Pacers.com. “Take advantage of the weakest defender. If you need a 3, we have a number of guys who can knock down 3s. But when the game has been on the line, we’re going to give the ball to Victor (Oladipo) a lot more in the fourth quarter.”

The Pelicans held Oladipo, a shooting guard acquired in a trade with the Thunder, to 15 points. Center Myles Turner led the way with 21 points and 12 rebounds, but Indiana was outscored 56-37 in the second half after producing a 75-point first half.

“It takes a while to see who’s the closer, where we’re trying to get (something) out of the offense, the patience we’re trying to get. It’s a learning process,” point guard Darren Collison told Pacers.com. “I think it’s going to get better over time. If and when we make the playoffs, hopefully, we know what to do in those situations around that time.”

Indiana could be without forward Domas Sabonis for the second straight game. He sat out Tuesday due to a right calf contusion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

x

Check Also

Brady, Patriots heading for greater heights in Mexico

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) — Tom Brady, fresh off his NFL-record 86th road win, ...

Previewing the Cowboys 'must-win' game Sunday night against the Eagles | First Things First

Cris Carter and Nick Wright preview Eagles-Cowboys Week 11 matchup | FIRST THINGS FIRST

Broncos boss blames players, not coaches, for nosedive

DENVER (AP) Broncos general manager John Elway defended his embattled rookie head coach and his ...