INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The Indiana Pacers entered their matchup with the Detroit Pistons with a four-game losing streak. That came to an end as they came out on top 111-95 in this game.
The Pacers jumped out to a 28-19 lead through the end of the first quarter using 11 points and four assists from Domantas Sabonis. Detroit put together a strong second quarter and used that to tie the game 52-52 at halftime.
Indiana regained their momentum during the third quarter as they outscored the Pistons by a 12-point margin. Entering the final period with an 82-70 advantage, the Pacers needed to just maintain their lead and managed to do so.
By achieving a victory, the Pacers improved back to .500 on the season. Indiana regained the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings and hold a one-game lead over the Toronto Raptors, Charlotte Hornets, and Atlanta Hawks.
Here are three things to like and dislike from this matchup:
LIKE: Starting Lineup Change
Before the Pacers began this game, head coach Nate Bjorkgren opted to swap out Jeremy Lamb in the starting lineup in favor of Doug McDermott. Indiana experienced strong success with this personnel group on the court.
With McDermott being such an off-ball oriented talent, his impact is maximized alongside legitimate playmaking talent. He does best what the starting group needs most and it keeps the key players like Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner all involved.
It was just the Pacers' starting unit that benefited from this lineup change. Having Lamb play in the bench unit enables him to handle the ball more and play with more of a rhythm. That was clear as he finished with 17 points on 6-of-7 (85.7%) from the field and 3-of-3 (100.0%) from deep.
DISLIKE: Second Quarter Execution
There was a real chance for the Pacers to have put this game away sooner than they ended up doing. Indiana held a 28-19 lead after the opening quarter but their advantage was wiped away end narrowed down to being a tie at halftime.
The Pacers went cold during this quarter from inside the arc. Indiana finished just 8-of-21 (38.1%) from the field during this frame with All-Star candidates Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon combining for just seven points on 2-of-8 (25.0%) shooting.
Indiana was unable to get into much of a rhythm offensively during this part of the game. Meanwhile, the Pistons weren't experiencing resistance getting to the rim -- going 11-of-14 (78.6%) on two-point field goals.
LIKE: Perimeter Shooting Edge
There was a staggering advantage in the perimeter shooting advantage the Pacers experienced in this game. Indiana finished this game by going 14-of-31 (45.2%) from beyond the arc while the Pistons finished just 5-of-28 (17.9%).
There was only one member of the Pistons that managed to record multiple made three-pointers. Detroit's highest volume shooters from the perimeter were Blake Griffin, Jerami Grant, and Wayne Ellington and they each shot 1-of-6 (16.7%). Indiana made it a point to contest the Pistons' three-point attempts and it showed.
There was quite a disparity in success in this area in favor of the Pacers. Doug McDermott was the only starter who didn't make multiple three-pointers. Additionally, Indiana's bench matched the Pistons' whole team in makes from deep with five.
DISLIKE: Brogdon's Scoring Inefficiency
The bar was set high by Malcolm Brogdon's early season production but lately, he's been underachieving in comparison. The Pacers relied on his All-Star caliber production and it's not surprising they are 2-4 so far this season with him struggling.
So far this month, Brogdon is averaging only 16.0 points and is shooting just 38.5% from the field and 30.0% on three-pointers. He has now scored below 20 points in each of his previous five games. The Pacers need him to pick this up and in a hurry.
A critical element of Brogdon's struggles has been his inability to succeed from less than 10 feet. He finished just 2-of-9 (22.2%) on these attempts but genuinely thrived on pull-ups and catch-and-shoot looks. His poor finishing has been a problem all season and needs to improve, it's just becoming more of an issue now.
LIKE: No Answer For Sabonis
There was legitimately no answer the Pistons had for Domantas Sabonis in this game. He finished with a game-high 26 points and an impressive eight rebounds, eight assists, three steals, and two blocks to go along with it.
Detroit was outscored by a staggering 26 points during the 38 minutes that Sabonis was on the court. The Pistons primarily tasked Isaiah Stewart with guarding Sabonis and routinely was unable to handle him despite his strength and physical approach.
The best aspect of Sabonis' performance was that it didn't require the ball movement to become non-existent for it to happen. The Pacers were playing far more tied together as a unit.
It has been a struggle for the Pacers to contain teams on the boards this season. That continued against the Pistons. Detroit did struggle shooting the ball so plenty of rebounds were available but allowing 15 offensive rebounds is certainly suboptimal.
Second-chance scoring was one of the few areas where the Pistons ended up holding an advantage over the Pacers in this game. Detroit totaled 20 points in this area and held a five-point edge over Indiana.
The Pacers had some issues particularly with keeping Isaiah Stewart off the boards. He grabbed four offensive rebounds and managed to get a second-chance bucket on each of those for a total of eight points.