The Pistons won their third straight game and seventh in the last eight, topping the Indiana Pacers, 113-109, on Monday night at LCA in Detroit. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Detroit — When things started to get physical and chippy, the Pistons didn’t back down.
After getting drubbed by 37 points in December in the first meeting against the Indiana Pacers, the Pistons were ready for the rematch.
Riding the confidence of their two straight wins and solid play this month, the Pistons didn’t back down when things got physical — they handled things on the scoreboard and with their toughness.
The Pistons almost let a 17-point lead slip away but regrouped and took a 113-109 victory over the Pacers on Monday night at Little Caesars Arena. It’s the Pistons’ seventh win in the last eight games and with losses by the Hornets and Heat, they’re building a solid cushion for seventh place in the East playoff race.
Andre Drummond had 26 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and two steals, Blake Griffin added a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Luke Kennard had his second straight big game off the bench, chipping in 19 points and four rebounds for the Pistons (29-30).
There were five technical fouls in the game — three on the Pacers and two on the Pistons — and some physical fouls and plenty of contact that went uncalled. The Pistons stayed within themselves and held their lead after it got close in the fourth quarter.
“We didn’t back down, but we have to keep our heads. The only way they were going to get back in that game is to get us discombobulated and get us upset and out of sorts — and they did,” coach Dwane Casey said. “I love the fact that we didn’t back down … nobody backed down and that’s the way you have to play.”
The Pistons had a 17-point lead in the first quarter but the Pacers (40-21) whittled it down with a flurry in the second period, including 10 straight points by Domantas Sabonis (23 points and seven rebounds). Indiana had another 8-0 run to finish the half and trailed, 55-51.
Drummond got going, with 12 of his points in the third quarter, including six straight in the final three minutes. He shot 12-of-21 from the field but his nine offensive rebounds helped tilt the scales in the Pistons’ favor.
The Pistons stayed in it with 3-point shooting, going 18-of-41 (44 percent) for the game, including five each from Griffin and Kennard and four from Wayne Ellington (14 points).
They led by 14 with 3:43 remaining after a 3-pointer by Kennard and things got physical, with a double-technical on Griffin and Bojan Bogdanovic. Another dust-up came between Drummond and Thaddeus Young about two minutes later.
Blake Griffin had a triple-double as the Pistons beat the Pacers on Monday night. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Another dust-up came between Drummond and Thaddeus Young about two minutes later.
“It left a bad taste in our mouth the last time we played these guys. They outworked us in pretty much all facets of the game,” Griffin said. “We were able to come out and impose our will in a lot of different ways. I thought we did a good job of playing physical and executing everything we wanted to do.”
The Pacers cut the lead to 87-84 with 9:37 left on a 3-pointer by Myles Turner and a floater from Bogdanovic but the Pistons responded with a 10-0 run, with a three-point play from Langston Galloway (13 points), a 3-pointer from Griffin and a basket by Drummond.
Bogdanovic had 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter in the comeback effort, but the lead was too much to overcome. They got close down the stretch with some 3-pointers but couldn’t get closer than four in the final seconds.
“We knew what happened last game that took place. They took it to us pretty good, so it was in the back of our minds what they did, but it was a good win tonight,” Kennard said. “We fought; it was fun.”