By Conrad Brunner
Getting balanced production across the roster, the Pacers built a 25-point lead and held on to beat Detroit 111-101 before 9,390 Wednesday at Conseco Fieldhouse.
After following weekend losses to the Kings and Pistons with a win over the Celtics on Monday, center Roy Hibbert called the Pacers a Jekyll and Hyde team because of their tendency toward inconsistency, but there was no letdown against Detroit this time.
The victory protected Indiana's one-game lead over Charlotte in the race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks, who visit Conseco Fieldhouse Friday night, are three games back.
Indiana's magic number for clinching that postseason berth was reduced to six.
Darren Collison led the Pacers with 20 and Danny Granger had 17 while the second unit produced 47 points led by Josh McRoberts with 15 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.
Rodney Stuckey came off the bench to score a game-high 24 for Detroit.
The Pacers won their second in a row to improve to 34-42 overall, 21-16 at home and 17-15 under interim coach Frank Vogel. Detroit lost its ninth straight on the road and fell to 26-48 overall, 7-30 on the road.
- "Great win, very excited about it. I thought our focus and concentration was very strong." -- Vogel
- "Our depth is probably our greatest strength. We’re playing as a team, playing together. When we do that we’re pretty good. We’ve got great balance." -- Vogel
- "We just have to build on this. There is no room for error now. We have to continue to play tough and win." -- Brandon Rush
- "It was good to be back on the floor and be competing. … My legs felt good and I felt good overall. I was just glad to be back out there and hopefully help my teammates." -- Mike Dunleavy
- "Our guys were just trying to bring energy and put a charge in everybody." -- McRoberts
STAT OF THE GAME
The victory ensured the Pacers will have a winning record at home for the 22nd consecutive season, the longest such streak in the NBA.
The game turned with the reserves on the floor in the second quarter, as second unit players scored 21 of the points in a 25-8 run that turned a 29-24 deficit into a 49-37 lead.
The starters then took the lead and ran with it, opening the second half with a 15-4 run that included nine points from Granger, to stretch the gap to 74-51.
Cruising along with a 101-78 lead in the fourth quarter, the Pacers relaxed a bit and Detroit put together a 21-6 run to cut the lead all the way down to 107-99 with 45 seconds left but Paul George and Tyler Hansbrough both hit a pair of free throws to eliminate any remaining doubt about the outcome.
BY THE NUMBERS
Collison hit 9-of-11 from the field and had three assists to go with his 20 points. Granger shot 7-of-17 and had four rebounds and four steals with his 17 points. McRoberts shot 6-of-9 and had two blocks with his fourth double-double of the season. Roy Hibbert had 12 points, four rebounds and two blocks. All 10 Pacers who played scored at least seven points.
Stuckey shot 10-of-20 and had nine assists and seven rebounds to threaten a triple-double for the Pistons. Richard Hamilton scored 19, Tayshaun Prince and Greg Monroe 14 apiece and Chris Wilcox 10. The Pistons lost despite shooting 50.6 percent from the field.
- Tonight's victory is the Pacers' eighth (8-10) in the month of March and the team has won eight games for the second month in a row.
- In the last two games, Darren Collison has averaged 18.5 ppg and shot 17-20 FG (.850).
- Including tonight's win, the Pacers are 20-11 this season when recording 20+ assists.
- Detroit's 18 turnovers are the most by a Pacers' opponent in the last 21 games--since the Wizards had 20 miscues at Washington, 2/22.
- Making his first appearance in 21 games, Mike Dunleavy had nine points, two rebounds, two assists and a turnover in 19 minutes off the bench.
- Despite Rodney Stuckey's game-high 24 points off the bench, the Pacers' reserves outscored Detroit's bench, 47-42. All five Indiana reserves that played scored at least seven points, while Stuckey and Jason Maxiell (7) were the only Pistons' reserves to score at least seven points.
Indiana's three-game homestand concludes with a big game Friday against one of the teams chasing the Pacers for the final playoff spot in the East, the Milwaukee Bucks (7 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM). Tickets: Buy now | Collectible Friday.