The Indiana Pacers shot 50 percent for a third consecutive game but it didn’t translate to a three-game winning streak.
The Detroit Pistons shot even better at 54.7 percent to end an 11-game home losing streak and defeat the Pacers 119-109 Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
And Indiana suffered yet another injury as shooting guard Rodney Stuckey was knocked out of the game early in the third quarter with an eye injury after scoring nine points. Stuckey got hit in the right eye by Andre Drummond with 10:18 remaining. The guard immediately signaled to a trainer and was helped to the locker room. The Pacers trailed 61-55 at the time.
Seven Pistons scored in double digits, led by Drummond with 20 and forward Greg Monroe with 19, as the Pacers trailed for much of the game. The differential reached 11 points by the end of the third quarter.
It was the Pistons’ highest scoring output in what has been a demoralizing 6-23 season, and their field-goal percentage was also a season high — their previous best was 49.3 percent.
The outburst was particularly surprising considering the Pacers were allowing 96.1 points per game. And Indiana (10-20) arrived with some momentum after point guard George Hill made his season debut with a team-high 15 points in Tuesday’s home victory over New Orleans.
But instead of adding a win against a struggling team, the Pacers allowed the Pistons to prevail for just the third time on their home floor. As rough as the Pacers have had it trying to overcome injuries and enduring losing streaks of eight and six games, the Pistons have already lost 13 in a row. And then came a shocking roster change earlier in the week with the release of forward Josh Smith, who was averaging 13.1 points per game. This was Detroit’s first game without Smith.
Pacers head coach Frank Vogel was emphasizing the importance of defense after Detroit enjoyed a 32-26 lead at the end of the opening quarter. But the Pistons kept scoring.
Pacers center Roy Hibbert scored a team-high 19 points, but when he sat down due to foul trouble in the third quarter, the Pistons pulled away with a 36-29 quarter. The 36 points were the most the Pistons have scored in a quarter this season. They had already set a season high with 32 points in the opening quarter.
And the home team won despite missing 14-of-29 free throws.
The Pacers shot a season-high 50.6 percent (42-of-83). Forward Solomon Hill, point guard C.J. Watson and reserve forward Luis Scola each had 14. Hill scored 13 points in his second game of the season. Reserve forward-center Lavoy Allen had 10.
Indiana visits the Brooklyn Nets (13-15) tonight.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.