Reserves Help Pistons Topple Pacers
Detroit 98, Indiana 73
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., April 9 (Ticker) -- The NBA-leading Detroit Pistons were led by a cast of unlikely heroes on Sunday afternoon.
Bench players Lindsey Hunter, Tony Delk and Antonio McDyess each scored in double figures and Ben Wallace grabbed a season-high 22 rebounds as the Detroit Pistons cruised to a 98-73 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
The loss was the seventh in eight games for the Pacers (36-40), who are in the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference but lead Chicago (35-41) and Philadelphia (35-41) by just one game.
The Pacers were lethargic throughout, shooting 36 percent and getting outrebounded, 52-35.
"At this point, we don't even deserve to be in the playoffs," Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal said. "I don't know if we are tanking the season, or if we just don't want to go to the playoffs, but we're getting murdered every night on the defensive end.
"There are talkers and there are doers. All we are is a talking team."
Meanwhile, the Pistons (62-15) appear determined to lock up the best record in the NBA this season and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. They lead Western Conference leader San Antonio (58-18) by 3 1/2 games and are one victory shy of tying a franchise record for wins (63-19) set in 1988-89.
"All of our guys, we sense what's coming," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We know what's going to come here in two weeks, and you have to have an edge. You have to not only have an edge, but from an individual standpoint, you want your game and the things you do to be at top form."
Known for its outstanding starting lineup which features four All-Stars, the Pistons received a major contribution from their bench.
Hunter scored 12 of his season-high 14 points in the first half when the Pistons built a 45-35 lead.
Detroit then opened the second half with a 15-4 run and increased its advantage to 68-46 on a jumper by Richard Hamilton with 2:27 left in the third quarter.
The Pistons led by as many as 34 points in the fourth quarter.
Tayshaun Prince led the Pistons with 17 points - all of them coming in the second half. Delk finished with 11 points and McDyess added 10
"I think it's going to help us even more, knowing that we have another guy that's capable of scoring and we don't have to put so much pressure on our starters," Delk said. "Guys coming off the bench have to make plays and make shots."
Stephen Jackson led the Pacers with 15 points, but made just 4-of-12 shots.
"I haven't got any answers - I'm out there busting my (butt)," Jackson said. "My guy was 4-for-12 or 5-for-12. Everyone on this team needs to be accountable for the actions - the players and the coaches. We've got to do this together."