Pistons-Pacers Preview

A win by the playoff-hopeful Indiana Pacers over one of the

elite teams in the Eastern Conference might usually have coach

Frank Vogel thrilled. That wasn’t the case when that victory came

two days after a loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons.

The inconsistent Pacers hope to build on their latest win and

exact some revenge Wednesday night when they host the Pistons.

Indiana (33-42) owns a one-game lead over Charlotte in the race

for the East’s final playoff spot, and swept the season series from

the Bobcats with a 23-point victory in Charlotte last

Wednesday.

Any momentum gained from that big win was quickly lost when the

Pacers proceeded to drop their next two games to Sacramento and

Detroit – two of the NBA’s worst teams. Indiana rebounded from

those defeats with Monday’s 107-100 win over Boston, which is

battling for the conference’s top seed.

“One day, probably when I’m old and gray, I’ll try to figure out

what was wrong with us – why we can beat Boston, but lose to

Sacramento and Detroit,” Vogel said. “I can’t figure it out, but we

definitely needed this. We’re going to have to figure it out at

some point.”

A couple of obvious reasons the Pacers lost 100-88 to the

Pistons on Saturday were their starters struggling offensively and

the whole team playing poor defense.

Indiana’s starting lineup had 45 points – 21 fewer than it had

Monday – on 40.4 percent shooting with more turnovers (14) than

assists (13). Reserve Brandon Rush had a team-high 19 points for

the Pacers, who fell to 0-22 when failing to score more than

92.

They allowed Detroit (26-47) to shoot 51.3 percent and reach the

century mark for the first time in five games. The Pistons, idle

since that matchup, are 21-12 when they hit triple digits but just

5-35 when they don’t.

Richard Hamilton led Detroit with 23 points, while Charlie

Villanueva scored 13 playing the entire fourth quarter after

watching the first three from the sidelines. Coach John Kuester

benched Villanueva for all of Friday’s 97-91 loss to Cleveland.

“I expected the same amount of time as last game, but at the

same time I had to be ready,” Villanueva said. “We have nine or 10

games left. I’m not really worried about it. Whatever coach wants

to do, I’ll back him up.”

The Pistons are on the verge of playoff elimination, six games

back of Indiana with nine to play.

While the Pacers struggled defensively down the stretch

Saturday, allowing Detroit to make 10 of 19 shots in the fourth

quarter, they did a much better job late against Boston. Indiana

limited the Celtics to 4-of-14 shooting in the fourth while

outscoring them 26-15.

Roy Hibbert took advantage of Boston’s depleted front line to

lead the Pacers on Monday with 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Two

days earlier, Hibbert had six points on 3-of-10 shooting versus

Detroit.

Tyler Hansbrough had five points Monday but could be in line for

a better performance after scoring 16 against the Pistons.

Hansbrough has alternated good and bad outings in his last six

games, averaging 18.0 points on 60.0 percent shooting in three and

6.7 points on 30.8 percent shooting in the other three.