Pacers 91, Pistons 79

Danny Granger couldn’t shoot straight for most of the night, yet

the smile across his face as he iced his knees in the locker room

after the game spoke volumes.

In the past, as Granger’s shot went, so went Indiana. He shot

poorly on Monday night, but the Pacers still defeated the Detroit

Pistons 91-79 in the season opener for both teams at the renamed

Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Granger finished with 16 points on 6-for-18 shooting, but three

Pacers had double-doubles, giving him a level of support that has

been absent over the years. Roy Hibbert had 16 points and 14

rebounds, Tyler Hansbrough had 15 points and 13 rebounds and David

West had 11 points and 12 rebounds.

Add a defense that held Detroit to 36 percent shooting, and

Granger could finally be at peace on an off night.

”We definitely could not have done that last year,” he said.

”We have the ability to crash the boards. I think our big guys did

an excellent job of dominating the glass, on the offensive end

also. We didn’t give up too many offensive rebounds. When they can

dominate the glass like that, it’s going to be hard to beat

us.”

It was ironic that this season of high hopes started with a win

against the Pistons. After all, it was an altercation with the

Pistons and their fans in 2004 that ultimately forced the Pacers to

rebuild.

Indiana’s fans haven’t forgotten. As players were introduced,

Ben Wallace, a central figure in that brawl, was booed loudly. The

fans who saw a championship-caliber team dismantled after a flurry

of off-the-court problems finally have returned, and a packed house

saw the fruits of team president Larry Bird’s rebuilding effort on

display.

West, the team’s big-name free-agent pickup, was active and

affected the game, even though he struggled to finish down low.

Guard George Hill, the hometown hero acquired in a draft-night

trade with San Antonio, provided a spark off the bench and created

a buzz whenever his name was announced.

Pacers coach Frank Vogel won his first game without an interim

tag, and the team did it his way – with smashmouth basketball.

Indiana outrebounded the Pistons 53-40.

”We still took a few too many bad shots, which I’m not too

happy with,” he said. ”But we were attacking the basket, we were

getting to the free throw line and we’re making the extra pass, and

that’s the style of play that we’re going to have. and it’s going

to win for us.”

The Pacers shot just 37 percent from the field, but got away

with it in part because they had 18 offensive rebounds and 14

second-chance points.

Detroit couldn’t get its offense going to take advantage of

Indiana’s poor shooting.

”We just have to play a whole lot more together game,” Detroit

coach Lawrence Frank said after his debut as Pistons coach. ”More

ball movement, more working to get rhythm shots. It just shows you

where we’re at right now. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Jonas Jerebko and Rodney Stuckey each scored 17 points for the

Pistons, who never led.

”Now we know what we’ve got to do,” Stuckey said. ”We’ve got

to stop complaining, we’ve got to rebound the basketball, we’ve got

to play harder. That’s it.”

Indiana led big early, but Detroit made a push in the second

quarter before back-to-back 3s by George and Darren Collison

increased Indiana’s lead to 47-34.

The Pacers led 52-38 at halftime and kept rolling at the start

of the second half. Collison hit a baseline jumper off an offensive

board by West, then followed it with a 3-pointer to push Indiana’s

lead to 59-42. Hibbert dunked and was fouled after a nifty inside

feed from Granger. His free throw pushed Indiana’s lead to 62-42

four minutes into the second half and forced a timeout by the

Pistons.

Detroit played a bit better right out of the timeout, but a

bucket by Hansbrough and a fast break layup by Dahntay Jones pushed

the lead back to 20 and forced another Detroit timeout with 4:42

left in the third.

This timeout didn’t work so well for the Pistons. Jones hit a

long baseline jumper, then George Hill’s steal and dunk pushed

Indiana’s lead to 74-50. The Pacers led 76-58 at the end of the

third quarter.

A 3-pointer by Granger pushed the lead to 85-61 with 7 minutes

left in the game. Pacers fans gave the team a standing ovation in

the final minute.

Frank was impressed with the Pacers, but he didn’t get carried

away.

”It’s one game,” he said. ”What’s the big boulevard down

here? I don’t know if there’s going to be a parade this year.

They’re a good team, it’s one game, they outplayed us

tonight.”

Notes: Pacers C Jeff Foster sat out with a back injury he

tweaked during the preseason. … Pistons C Ben Wallace was loudly

booed during pregame introductions. Wallace played a key role in

the brawl in 2004 that eventually forced the Pacers to rebuild. …

Indiana F Jeff Pendergraph missed the game with a sprained right

knee. … Indiana outscored Detroit 16-4 from the free-throw line

in the first half. … Hill had four points and four assists in his

regular-season debut for Indiana.