It’s hard to get over the hump when the opponent has an answer for every run.
The Pistons chiseled away at the lead and tied it a couple of times in the final period. When the Indiana Pacers needed a big basket, they got it, and didn’t let the Pistons get back in the game.
Native Detroiter Edmond Sumner scored 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter to quell the Pistons’ comeback attempts through the midpoint of the period. The Pistons had one last rally that fell short, and they took a 116-111 loss on Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Jerami Grant had 29 points and six rebounds, Wayne Ellington and Saddiq Bey 16 points each and Mason Plumlee 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons (12-31), who lost their second straight.
The Pacers (20-23) ended their six-game home losing streak with a big boost from Caris LeVert, who had 28 points, including a 3-pointer that provided enough cushion to hold on in the closing 10 seconds.
“He’s a big-time scorer,” coach Dwane Casey said of LeVert. “You can give it to him and he can get his own bucket any time, from anywhere on the court.”
LeVert had eight points in the fourth quarter and he and Domantas Sabonis carried the Pacers the final few minutes of the period after the Pistons got within two in the final minute, following a furious 7-0 run.
Plumlee had a dunk, Grant scored on a drive and a turnaround jumper and Plumlee split a pair of free throws to trim the lead to 111-109 with 55.1 seconds to go. The Pistons had a chance to tie the game after a scramble for the ball, but Casey called for a timeout to set up the play.
The Pistons didn’t score on their possession and the Pacers ended theirs with LeVert’s stepback 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds left. Grant was fouled on a 3-point attempt but missed the first free throw before making the final two to trim the lead to three.
At halftime, the Pacers led, 57-51, and pushed it to 10 with a 6-0 run early in the third quarter, with a pair of free throws by LeVert, a drive by Malcolm Brogdon (16 points) and two free throws by Sabonis. In a game of runs, the Pistons had a response, with eight straight points — including back-to-back 3-pointers by Bey and Grant — which cut the lead to two.
Justin Holiday (14 points) had eight straight Pacers points but the Pistons stayed close and a lay-in by Grant made it a 72-70 deficit at the 4:50 mark, before a 3-pointer by Brogdon and a free throw by LeVert pushed the lead to six.
The lead increased to seven entering the fourth quarter, but the Pistons made another push, with a dunk by Isaiah Stewart (11 points and seven rebounds) and a jumper by Josh Jackson. The Pistons tied it after a 13-4 spurt that included two baskets from Tyler Cook and a 3-pointer and a jumper from Ellington, who returned to the lineup after missing four games because of a groin injury.
“Three-point shooting is such a big part of the game today,” Casey said. “They had four more (3-pointers) than us, and that was the difference in the game.”
After the Pistons got close, Sumner scored on a drive and the Pistons took the lead, 96-94, with a free throw from Cook and a 3-pointer from Bey. Sumner, who went to Detroit Country Day, added a drive and a 3-pointer, and after an Ellington drive, Sumner hit another 3-pointer, for a 102-98 Pacers lead at the 6:09 mark.
The Pistons didn’t regain the lead after that.
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