Indianapolis — Dwane Casey dismissively waved his hands in disgust. It could have been at the Pistons’ lackluster defense. It could have been at the ridiculous offense, which had 22 turnovers in another sloppy game.
It could have just been at a stretch of games that featured as many turnovers as anything else. The sloppy play has been the coal in Casey’s Christmas stocking and the biggest concern for a Pistons team that’s hovering around .500 but looking like a team can plunge out of playoff contention before it gets its footing.
The Pistons put on another blindfold-worthy performance, falling to the Indiana Pacers, 125-88, on Friday night before a sellout crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The 37-point margin is the Pacers’ largest margin in 191 head-to-head meeting with the Pistons.
The margin wasn’t really that close, though Casey kept his starters in as the deficit moved past 30 points midway through the fourth quarter.
“I want to first apologize to the fans of the Detroit Pistons. That’s one of the worst exhibitions we’ve put out on the floor,” Casey said. “We’ve got to have more pride than we played with tonight, more togetherness and all-out play. Indiana outworked us in every facet of the game.”
The Pistons had a team meeting following the blowout loss, though neither players nor Casey would go into detail about what was discussed.
Blake Griffin had 18 points, Luke Kennard added 14 off the bench and Andre Drummond 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Pistons (16-17), who lost for the third time in the last four games.
The Pistons’ defense was porous, allowing the Pacers (24-12) to hit 60 percent from the field for the game. It started with several easy, uncontested layups in the first half and the Pacers raced out to an 11-point margin after the first quarter.
“It’s just lack of concentration. We’re all guilty of it — myself included; it starts with me,” Griffin said. “It’s turning the ball over, not getting us in the right sets, not getting us in the offense and down and ready. It starts with me. It’s all correctable mistakes. Consistency is our biggest issue right now.”
Domantas Sabonis and Darren Collison had 19 points each and All-Star guard Victor Oladipo had just seven points, but didn’t need to do much more.
The Pistons struggled to find good shots and hit just 37 percent in the game, as the bench struggled to give them any production, beyond Kennard’s scoring.
The deficit was 13 at halftime but the Pistons cut it to 11 on a steal and dunk by Drummond. The Pacers answered with a 9-0 run, with a dunk and 3-pointer by Collison, which boosted the lead to 20. The Pistons didn’t threaten after that.
1. The Pistons had another lackluster start to the game, digging into an 11-point deficit by the end of the first quarter. It’s been a recurring problem and something that Casey said that they would look to clean up. It didn’t happen on Friday, as the deficit was 13 at halftime.
2. Kennard didn’t play in Wednesday’s win over the Wizards after Casey made the change in the starting lineup, inserting Bruce Brown. Kennard returned with a flurry, scoring 11 points in the first half, including two 3-pointers and a three-point play. He looked for his shot more readily and got into a good rhythm with the rest of the offense. In the second half, though, he passed on a couple shots, which is what he was working on.
3. Drummond got into early foul trouble, picking up his second foul at 5:32 of the first quarter, which sent things into a spiral. They didn’t get anything going on the offensive end, falling into a 12-3 hole in the first four minutes. Drummond had a tough assignment with the Pacers’ Myles Turner but he never seemed to get going on either end of the court with his usual groove.
4. Defense continued to be a problem, as the Pacers shot 61.8 percent from the field in the first half and seemingly got whatever shot they wanted from the field. Sabonis and Bojan Bogdanovic were each 5-of-8 from the field and feasted inside, as part of the Pacers’ dominating margin of 68-40 in points in the paint.
5. Besides Kennard, the Pistons’ bench accounted for just 17 points, with six from Zaza Pachulia. Langston Galloway, Stanley Johnson and Pachulia never really got going and when that second unit was in, the Pacers dominated. There wasn’t much resistance early in the fourth quarter, as the Pistons managed only eight points in the first six minutes.