Pacers 111, Pistons 101

The Indiana Pacers started slowly in a subpar first quarter.

It was a different story once the second quarter started.

Darren Collison scored 20 points and Danny Granger had 17, and

Indiana used a 31-12 run in the second quarter to produce a 111-101

win over Detroit on Wednesday night.

”We knew we had to get the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel

said. ”We took it to them. Our bench was spectacular again.”

The Pacers, 34-42 with six games remaining, maintained their

grip on the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re

one game ahead of 32-42 Charlotte, which defeated Cleveland

98-97.

Josh McRoberts added a double-double of 15 points and 13

rebounds and Roy Hibbert scored 12 points.

”Our depth is probably our greatest strength,” Vogel said.

”We’re playing as a team. We play together. When we play that way,

we’re pretty good.”

Detroit, 11th in the conference, slipped to 26-48 with its

fourth loss in five games. The only win was a 100-88 defeat of the

Pacers on Saturday.

Rodney Stuckey came off the bench to lead the Pistons with 24

points on 10-of-20 shooting. Richard Hamilton had 19, Tayshaun

Prince and Greg Monroe 14 each and Chris Wilcox 10.

The loss also extended Detroit’s string of road losses to nine,

a skid of nearly two months. The Pistons’ last win away from home

was a 103-94 win at Cleveland on Feb. 9.

”It is something we are going to have to fix,” Monroe said.

”We are going to have to bring extra energy on the road. We just

have to match the other team’s intensity.”

Mike Dunleavy returned to the Pacers’ lineup after missing 19

games with a broken thumb and scored nine points on 3-of-9

shooting.

The Pacers used two big inside plays early in the second quarter

to change the game from a seesaw affair.

Jeff Foster came off the bench to follow a missed shot, drew the

foul and made the free throw. On the Pacers’ next possession, Josh

McRoberts did the same, converting a missed shot, drawing the foul

and making the free throw.

The Pacers subsequently ran off strings of 17-4 and 14-4,

turning a five-point deficit into a 14-point, 55-41 lead 1:54

before the half.

Foster scored six points to key the first run; Price led the way

in the second spurt by scoring six.

”We try to bring a little bit of energy,” McRoberts said of

joining Foster off the bench. ”Not that the first team didn’t have

it; we just need to pick it up a little bit, and we were able to, I

guess.

”Jeff makes it a lot easier. He takes at least one or two guys

away from me, so I have a little bit more off an opportunity to get

to the glass.”

During those stretches, the Pistons made just four of 17 field

goals.

Granger scored nine points as the Pacers opened the second half

with a 15-4 run, extending their lead to 74-51 with 8:04 still

remaining in the third period. Detroit missed four of six field

goals during Indiana’s run.

”Indiana just got into a groove,” Monroe said. ”They just

started executing and started hitting shots and getting easy cuts

to the basket. We were flat. We didn’t respond to any of their runs

today.”

Granger said the Pacers ”just turned it on.”

”We got a few steals, got out in transition,” he said. ”That

pretty much gave us the cushion that we needed for the rest of the

game.”

Hamilton and Stuckey led a late charge that trimmed the deficit

to 105-95 with 2:15 remaining, but Detroit could draw no closer

than eight points after that.

”We’re trying different things right now, trying to get

something going so we can win that road game,” Pistons coach John

Kuester said. ”But I’ll tell you, our energy is so much better at

home, compared to on the road.”