Pacers Sweep Season Series vs. Pistons
Al Jefferson turned in a big performance off the bench as the Indiana Pacers picked up a critical game against a fellow Eastern Conference playoff contender, while also picking up a season sweep over the Detroit Pistons.
Big Al provided a productive 18 minutes. The Mississippi native tallied eight points, five rebounds and two assists as the Indy decisively downed Detroit, 115-98.
“This was the total opposite of the Charlotte game,” said head coach Nate McMillan. “The game we played in Charlotte, there was no ball movement, a lot of standing. Tonight we had 27 assists, which showed ball movement. We talk about coming out strong and finishing strong and I think we did that tonight.”
Indiana led this one nearly wire to wire and got started by scoring the first eight points of the night, forcing the Pistons to call timeout a little more than 1:30 into the game. The brief break did nothing to slow the Pacers down, as their lead swelled to 15-3 on Paul George’s three with 7:26 left.
Al got in on the action late in the first, taking a pass from a driving Rodney Stuckey under the basket and laying it in to give the Pacers a 26-16 lead with 2:03 left.
Big Al kept the scoring going at the start of the second, fooling Aaron Baynes with a pump-fake to gain the separation for a one-handed jumper from inside the free throw line. With the Pistons beginning to match Indiana’s scoring, Al’s drive and spin around Baynes for a layup put the lead back into double figures with 10:03 left in the second.
Indy led 41-30 with 8:57 left until the half, when Detroit went on a 7-0 run over the next 1:41 to cut the lead to four. The Pacers responded with a 7-2 spurt to regain control at 48-39 with 5:11 left. The teams would largely trade baskets for the remainder of the half and the Pacers went into the locker room up 58-50.
Detroit came out of halftime and proceeded to outscore the Pacers 13-4 to start the third, taking a one-point lead at the 7:39 mark. Indiana responded with a game-changing run though, finishing the quarter from that point on a 28-10 spree to open a 17-point lead going into the fourth.
The lead grew as high as 23 in the final frame, as the Pacers coasted to victory.
Indiana established a new season-low in turnovers by committing just five, tied for the third-fewest by a team in the league this season.
The month of March continues to treat the Pacers well from beyond the Arc. After sinking 11 on 47 percent shooting Wednesday, the Pacers are now shooting 41.3 percent in four games this month.
The Pacers head to Milwaukee to face a young Bucks team that is sniffing a playoff spot. Tipoff on Friday night is at 8 p.m. EST.