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Rush returns with a bang as Pacers hold off Pistons
By Conrad Brunner
Brandon Rush has been back from his ankle injury for awhile. He just hadn't been all that visible, playing sparingly and contributing minimally.
But when Mike Dunleavy's injury created an opportunity for Rush to return to the limelight, he did so with a flourish. His dunk with 5.4 seconds left off a feed from Danny Granger was the winning basket as the Pacers fought past the Detroit Pistons 102-101 Wednesday before 12,214 in Conseco Fieldhouse.
Needing a defensive stop to close it out, the Pacers got it when Darren Collison clung to the driving Rodney Stuckey, who without room to handle the ball lost control and turned it over with one second remaining.
Tyler Hansbrough led the Pacers in scoring (21) and rebounding (12), while rookie Greg Monroe had a career-high 27 points with 12 rebounds to lead the Pistons.
The Pacers won their second in a row to improve to 26-30 overall and 9-3 under Frank Vogel. They've won six of seven at home, where they're 16-12, and taken seven of the last eight from the Pistons including five in a row at home. Detroit lost its fifth in sixth games to fall to 21-38 overall, 7-22 on the road.
- "They’re not all going to be pretty. Sometimes you have to grind it out to get the W." – Vogel
- "Danny Granger made a great play. He’s really growing in his decisions late in the game. He found Brandon (Rush) and Brandon went to the basket aggressive." – Vogel
- "It was a big one for us. It was big because we won with a real good defensive stop. We got a stop on Stuckey." – Collison
- "When teams make runs at you and you can answer the bell and ring them up, that is playing NBA basketball." – Paul George
STAT OF THE GAME
The Pacers have shot just 6-of-33 from the 3-point line in the last two games – but won both. Think that was possible a few weeks ago?
The first half was all about the second unit, which calls itself the "goon squad." With Hansbrough dominating the offensive glass – he pulled four on one particularly relentless possession – the Pacers threatened to blow it open, building a 41-25 lead midway through the second quarter.
But Detroit was in no mood to surrender and began chipping away behind Monroe, who was unstoppable inside, and the lead was pared to 51-43 at the break.
The Pacers came out hot to start the third quarter as 3-pointers from Granger and Rush and a three-point play by Collison fueled a 13-5 burst that pushed the advantage to 64-48 but the Pistons again fought back, trimming the lead to 78-73 entering the fourth quarter.
A couple of highlight-reel dunks in transition by rookie Paul George fueled a seven-point run that put the Pacers up 95-87 with 5:25 left but Monroe and Ben Gordon combined to score eight in a row to tie it at 95-all with 3:19 left, setting up the dramatic finish.
With the Pacers up 100-99 inside the final minute, Collison turned it over on a drive with 20.6 seconds left. With the chance to play for the last shot, the Pistons instead put one up relatively quickly and Austin Daye scored over George to make it 101-100 with 11.1 seconds to go.
Granger then patiently drove into the lane, drew a crowd of defenders and threaded a nice pass to Rush cutting in from the weak-side for the game-winner.
BY THE NUMBERS
Hansbrough had his third double-double of the season, making 8-of-17 shots. Eight of his 12 rebounds were on the offensive glass. Granger scored 17 of his 18 in the second half, 11 in the fourth quarter, adding six rebounds and three assists. Collison had 11 points, six assists and three steals, while Josh McRoberts and George had 10 apiece.
Monroe shot 11-of-17 for the Pistons, adding 12 rebounds. Stuckey scored 21 on 8-of-14 shooting but had just two assists. Tracy McGrady had 16 points and 12 assists and Gordon added 12 off the bench.
- With Dunleavy out indefinitely due to a broken left thumb suffered Tuesday night in Washington, Rush moved into the lineup for his first start since Jan. 19.
- The Pacers are 6-0 in home games the night after a road game.
- The Pistons are 0-16 when trailing after three quarters.
- The Pacers have swept five of their 15 sets of back-to-backs this season.
- The Pacers are now 5-4 in games decided by three points or less.
- Indiana's bench outscored the Detroit reserves, 47-31, and has scored 40-plus points in six of the last nine games.
- Including 0-8 by the bench, Indiana was 3-17 from 3-pt range tonight and the Pacers have hit 6-33 from beyond the arc in the last two games.
The Pacers host the new-look Utah Jazz Friday on Conseco Fieldhouse (7 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM). Utah just made a blockbuster trade, acquiring Devin Harris in a package from New Jersey in exchange for star point guard Deron Williams. This comes in the wake of the resignation of longtime coach Jerry Sloan earlier this month. Tickets: Buy Now | Collectible Friday