The season opener in Indiana certainly set the tone for the first week of play for both the Pacers and the Detroit Pistons.
The undefeated Pacers look to beat the winless Pistons for the second time in six days Saturday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Indiana hasn't looked back since defeating Detroit 91-79 on Monday at the renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse. With Friday's 98-91 overtime victory over Cleveland, the Pacers improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2007. They haven't opened with four consecutive wins since 2004-05, which was also the last season they finished with a winning record.
Indiana caught a break Friday when Cleveland's Kyrie Irving missed a layup that would have won the game at the end of regulation. The Pacers took advantage with Danny Granger scoring nine of his 22 points in the extra session.
"That's what Danny does,'' center Roy Hibbert said. "He makes big shots down the stretch and we follow his lead."
Indiana managed to win despite another poor shooting night. The Pacers shot 38.3 percent and have yet to crack the 40-percent mark in a game. They were 0-18 last season when shooting less than 40.0 percent.
"When we start shooting over 40.0 percent, it's going to look a lot prettier out there, and we won't have to grind these wins out," Hibbert said. "Just to be able to do this now is great.''
Defense and work on the glass have keyed Indiana's success. The Pacers are allowing an average of 85.0 points while hauling down a league-best 51.3 rebounds per game. They held the Pistons to 36.0 percent shooting in the opener, and outrebounded them 53-40.
Hibbert had 16 points and 14 rebounds in Monday's meeting, Tyler Hansbrough had 15 points and 13 boards, and David West had 11 points and 12 rebounds for Indiana. Hibbert recorded his third double-double in as many games Friday, finishing with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
The Pacers have won nine of the last 11 overall meetings with the Pistons, but have lost their last two games at The Palace.
Detroit (0-3) is also struggling offensively, but unlike Indiana it isn't getting stops on the other end of the court to compensate. The Pistons are averaging 84.3 points while allowing 97.3 per game. They trailed the Pacers by as many as 24 points Monday and faced a deficit as high as 25 in Friday's 96-85 loss to Boston.
"We just have to work and be a whole lot more efficient offensively,'' coach Lawrence Frank said.
Greg Monroe was the only Piston to score more than 11 on Friday, finishing with 22 points while shooting 9 of 12. The 6-foot-11 center combined for 18 points while shooting 8 of 17 from the field in his first two games.
Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko led Detroit with 17 points apiece in the opener against Indiana, but Stuckey has shot 5 of 23 and totaled 14 points over the last two games, while Jerebko has totaled 18 points in those contests.
The Pistons and Pacers won't play again until April 23 at Indiana, the penultimate regular-season game for each team.
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