Short-handed Pacers look to keep pace vs. Pistons

·3 min read

Keeping up in the Eastern Conference playoff race has become problematic for the Indiana Pacers.

Injuries piled up for the Pacers (27-31), who enter Saturday night's game against the lowly Detroit Pistons at Indianapolis holding the No. 9 seed in the Eastern Conference. Teams 7-10 qualify for a play-in tournament in each conference.

With its frontcourt depleted -- seven regulars overall are out -- Indiana needed to go small in order to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-116 on Wednesday night.

Malcolm Brogdon finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, while Caris LeVert added 28 points.

"I'd be lying to say there wasn't more pressure to carry the team offensively," Brogdon said. "We have to tell ourselves 'Go out and be more aggressive but continue to play the right way, get your teammates involved and give them confidence.'"

The Pacers halted a three-game skid but have lost their recent momentum.

Domantas Sabonis (sore lower back) missed his second consecutive game, and Goga Bitadze sat out with a sprained left ankle. Myles Turner has been ruled out indefinitely due to a partial tear of the plantar plate in the big toe of his right foot.

Already without T.J. Warren (foot surgery) for the remainder of the season, the Pacers were also missing Jeremy Lamb (left knee), Doug McDermott (left ankle) and JaKarr Simpson, who was suspended for one game after headbutting Patty Mills during Indiana's loss to San Antonio on Monday.

The Pacers are trying to remedy their frontcourt issues and signed 6-foot-10 center Amida Brimah to a two-way deal on Friday, according to ESPN.

Oshae Brissett, a 6-7 forward, just signed to a permanent deal with the Pacers after a pair of 10-day contracts and had a career-best 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Thunder.

"I like his size," Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said last week after a victory over the Houston Rockets. "He can guard multiple positions. I thought he did a good job out there."

The Pistons (18-42) have the worst record in the Eastern Conference and have an NBA-worst 26 losses on the road. Detroit also was depleted during its most recent loss, a 106-91 road setback Thursday against the San Antonio Spurs.

Cory Joseph missed the game to manage a sore left ankle. Wayne Ellington (rest), Mason Plumlee (rest), Dennis Smith Jr. (sore left knee), Rodney McGruder (sprained right elbow) also were out, along with Jerami Grant. He has a bruised left quadriceps.

Josh Jackson (29 points against the Spurs) continues to be a key offensive factor for the Pistons. Jackson is averaging 18.8 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting overall, including 39.5 percent from 3-point range, over his past nine games.

"I wouldn't say it's the best basketball I've played, but I feel a lot more comfortable at this moment than I have this entire season," Jackson said. "I'm just trying to keep getting better, take something away from every game, and come back and be better next game."

Rookie Killian Hayes returned after missing Detroit's previous game and finished with 10 points and five assists. But the Pistons turned the ball over 17 times, which led to 22 points for San Antonio.

"The mistakes we made were fundamental mistakes," Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. "Just making some uncharacteristic non-fundamental passes and plays that a lot of young players make in this league."

--Field Level Media