Though not fully recovered from a viral infection, returned to the lineup with a bang, scoring 25 points with 13 rebounds and four blocked shots.
"We showed some resiliency, we showed some toughness and we made plays when it counted. … It's certainly an important win for us. Detroit's a great team but we're trying to get better and this is a step in the right direction."
Points in the Paint:
Pacers 34, Pistons 30
Fast-break points:
Pistons 12, Pacers 8
2nd-chance points:
Pistons 27, Pacers 14
Points off turnovers:
Pacers 22, Pistons 12
Starters scoring:
Pacers 77, Pistons 65
Bench scoring:
Pistons 27, Pacers 16
The Pacers recorded their ninth victory against a team with a winning record, the most of any Eastern Conference team. Overall, the Pacers are 9-8 against teams with winning records.
Emeka Okafor and the Charlotte Bobcats visit Conseco Fieldhouse Saturday night (7:00, FSN-Indiana).
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    Armstrong's Free Throw Beats Pistons

    At The Palace of Auburn Hills | Dec. 29, 2006

    On a night when every run was a marathon – and there were several – it was somehow fitting that the guy with the most energy would prove the ultimate survivor. With the game tied and time on the verge of expiring, Darrell Armstrong chased down a deflected pass, ball-faked streaking Carlos Delfino off his feet, and then stood firm to absorb the full weight of the much bigger Detroit defender crashing into him from behind, drawing a decisive foul with nine-tenths of a second remaining.

    After collecting his battered frame from the floor, Armstrong missed the first free throw but pushed in the second to deliver the Pacers a wildly erratic but substantially rewarding 93-92 victory over the Pistons, the top team in the Eastern Conference, on their home floor Friday night.

    Jermaine O'Neal returned from a week-long bout with a mysterious ailment and led the team with 25 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots but contributions came from all over the roster with none more important than Armstrong's only point of the night.

    The Pacers (17-14) won their second in a row overall and fourth in five games. It was also their third straight road win, improving their record away from Conseco Fieldhouse to 8-10. They also assured at least a split of the season series with their second victory over the Pistons (18-10), who dropped their second straight and fell to 9-4 at home.


    O'Neal's performance was remarkable considering he was still not fully recovered from the ailment that has plagued him for a week. Al Harrington scored 12 of his 16 from the 3-point line, adding seven rebounds and three steals. Stephen Jackson scored 15, making all seven of his free throws including two with 17.1 seconds left. Jamaal Tinsley controlled the ball and the tempo, producing 14 points, nine rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks on a subtly brilliant performance belied by his 5-of-17 shooting. Jeff Foster did his usual thing with 10 rebounds, adding seven points and two assists. Marquis Daniels played a substantial role off the bench with eight points and four assists. The Pacers committed just 12 turnovers and had 24 assists. The defense produced 13 steals and six blocks.
    The Pacers again shot poorly overall (.405) and from the arc (6-of-21) and were outrebounded 55-42. Chauncey Billups (23) and Richard Hamilton (22) put numbers up but were a combined 14-of-37 from the floor. Billups also had 12 rebounds and five assists. Detroit's offensive rebounding nearly cost the Pacers the game as the Pistons scored 27 second-chance points.
    This was a game unlike any this season. The Pacers started with a 12-2 lead but Detroit was utterly dominant in a 37-12 run that gave the home team a 39-24 lead early in the second quarter. Trailing 43-29 midway through the period, the Pacers began a massive run of their own that would grow to 35-7, reversing the 14-point deficit into a 64-50 lead. O'Neal and Harrington combined for 18 points in the burst.

    Of course, Detroit came right back with a 14-3 run, including a 36-foot banked 3-pointer at the buzzer by Billups that cut the lead to 67-64 entering the fourth. The Pacers withstood that challenge and Daniels' layup gave the visitors an 83-76 lead with 4:45 remaining.

    Detroit quickly scored six in a row to cut the lead back to one but O'Neal converted a huge three-point play, then Tinsley turned a steal into a layup for an 88-82 lead. The Pacers seemed to be holding on nicely, up 89-85 with the ball but came up empty on two straight possessions, then allowed Delfino to corral a long rebound and feed Billups for a 3-pointer that cut it to 89-88 with 18.5 seconds left. Billups injured his left calf on the play and left the game.

    After Danny Granger missed his second free throw with 8.8 seconds left, Hamilton drove and drew a foul from Jackson, making both to tie the game with 3.5 seconds remaining. Without a timeout, the Pacers' inbounds play produced a long lead pass to O'Neal at the top of the key, but it was deflected away. Armstrong ran it down and took one for the team.

  • This opened the Pacers' 10th back-to-back set of the season, as they face Charlotte at Conseco Fieldhouse Saturday night. Indiana is 7-3 in the first games but 3-6 in the second.
  • With O'Neal's return, the Pacers went back to their most common lineup, the big group with Foster at center, which improved its record to 8-5 with six wins in its last eight games together.
  • O'Neal appeared to sprain an ankle in a scrum after a jump ball midway through the fourth quarter but after a timeout remained in the game.
  • Billups was diagnosed with a strained right calf muscle and projected to miss 10 days to two weeks.
  • Detroit's Rasheed Wallace was limited to just 21 minutes by flu-like symptoms.