AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The Detroit Pistons are happy to be done with the Indiana Pacers.
The teams played their last two games of the season this weekend, and Indiana finished off the home-and-home series the same way they started it, routing Detroit 90-72 Saturday at the Palace.
Indiana had led by as many as 43 in Friday’s 114-82 blowout in Indianapolis, and were up by 21 in the third quarter on Saturday.
It was Will Bynum, Detroit’s leading scorer in both games, who finally snapped. Late in the game, Bynum threw a sidearm punch into the groin of Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough, earning a flagrant-two foul and an ejection.
“It was just something that happened in the heat of the moment,” Bynum said. “It’s really frustrating when the same team is drilling you for the second night in a row.”
After being embarrassed 24 hours earlier, the Pistons would have been expected to coming out playing all-out in order to redeem themselves. That isn’t what happened.
Instead, Detroit missed 16 of its first 17 shots and didn’t reach double figures until the second quarter.
“I thought we played decent defense in the first quarter — we held Indiana to 16 points — but we obviously weren’t getting the job done on the other end of the floor,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “We missed some shots at the rim, and I think we started to hurry things.”
Indiana dominated the post on both ends of the floor. Not only did they have a 36-24 edge on points in the paint, they shot 69 percent inside while Detroit only managed 34 percent.
“They are long and athletic, and they make everything hard on you,” Bynum said. “They are the type of team that is so tough that you can’t make any mistakes against them, because if you get behind, you have to play perfect basketball just to get back into the game.”
That’s not something Detroit has been able to do against Indiana this year. In the four games they’ve played, the Pistons have averaged only 77 points and have lost each time by double-digit margins.
“That is a team that can maintain their defense for 48 minutes, and that’s one of the reasons they are ahead of us,” Frank said. “They are able to impose their will on you. That’s why they are the number-two team in the East.”
Detroit’s starters only scored 11 points in the first half, struggling as badly as they had on Friday against Indiana’s top five. Frank responded with going with an unusual lineup for long periods, Bynum and Charlie Villanueva alongside rookies Kim English, Slava Kravtsov and Khris Middleton.
That group actually gave the Pistons a one-point lead in the second quarter, but the Pacers had it back to 11 at the half and cruised from there.
“We will continue to evaluate the players we have on our roster,” Frank said. “If we’re struggling, we’re going to look at every combination we can put on the floor and see what it gives us. Tonight, Slava did some nice things setting screens, and Khris hit some shots when we were struggling to score. Those are things we’ll remember.”
Detroit will also remember four games of offensive helplessness against the Pacers. Luckily for the coaches and players, they won’t have another one until next season.