Pacers Send Pistons to Rare Loss
Indiana 93, Detroit 85
INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 4 (Ticker) -- Regardless of injuries, the Indiana Pacers continue to save their best for the Detroit Pistons.
Stephen Jackson scored 20 points and the Pacers dominated the glass en route to a hard-fought 93-85 victory over the Pistons.
"I think we came out and matched their force with force and not many teams have done that this year," Harrison said. "Maybe we shocked them a little bit."
The squads split four regular-season matchups last season, including their infamous brawl in Detroit last November, before the Pistons needed six games to knock out the Pacers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"Detroit is our rival team," veteran Pacers guard Anthony Johnson said. "When we see them on the schedule, we sort of circle those dates. Detroit fans and Indiana fans always pay attention to these games and our crowd was really into it tonight. They are a very good team and it was a big win."
With All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal, starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley and reserve forward Austin Croshere nursing injuries, Indiana had lost seven of its previous nine games and was not expected to be able to match up well with Detroit, which had cruised to an NBA-best 39-6 record.
However, the Pacers showed their heart Saturday, grabbing a season-high 25 offensive rebounds and getting a solid performance from their bench to hand the Pistons just their second loss in 16 games.
"We gave up 25 offensive rebounds and they got 21 extra shots out of that," said Pistons coach Flip Saunders, whose team was playing for the fourth time in five days. "I think that's a result of our guys being worn down. I don't think we got in any flow offensively or defensively."
After Chauncey Billups hit a pair of free throws to draw Detroit within 63-62 with 2:51 left in the third quarter, reserves rookie Danny Granger, Harrison and Sarunas Jasikevicius combined to score the next 11 points to break open the game.
"We didn't finish the third quarter and that resulted in us playing behind the rest of the way," Saunders said.
Granger answered with consecutive jumpers and a three-point play to push the lead to 70-62 with just under a minute remaining. Harrison followed with a dunk and Jasikevicius capped the burst with a jumper to make it 74-62.
"Our two young guys have really come through for us," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of Granger and Harrison. "We've got a lot of confidence in those guys. Danny has developed a mid-range jumper, and he's hit some big shots for us."
"Tonight really helped my confidence," said Granger, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in 20 minutes. "It was a big game. They're the best team in the league and I was glad that I could step up to their level."
The Pistons got no closer than five in the final quarter.
Richard Hamilton scored 31 points and Rasheed Wallace added 17 for Detroit, which shot 43 percent (33-of-77) from the field.
"No excuses. They beat us up on the boards," Wallace said. "They just made the hustle plays. They gave the second and third efforts all night, and that's what beat us."
The Pacers made up for their 29 percent (9-of-31) shooting in the first quarter by grabbing 14 offensive rebounds and faced just a 23-20 deficit after 12 minutes.
The starting frontcourt tandem of Scot Pollard and Jeff Foster provided the energy in the opening quarter. Pollard grabbed five of his career-high 14 boards and Foster five of his 12 in the session.
Jackson, who had to be helped off the court during Wednesday's win over the Lakers, picked up the offense in the second period, scoring 11 points in the session to give Indiana a 51-50 edge at the break.
"If I can walk, I can play," Jackson said. "I know I'll be sore tomorrow, but it was worth it today. "The injury was in my lower back and hip. I just wanted to come out and give the team a lift and not hurt them."