Regardless of how Paul George performs offensively, the Indiana Pacers have shown they aren't going to be successful without a strong defense.
After returning to their stingy ways, the Pacers will try to capture their seventh win in the last eight road meetings with the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
George struggled early this season while continuing to work his way back from a gruesome broken leg, but he's averaged 30.5 points since Nov. 6. That mark is tied with Houston's James Harden and second to Golden State's Stephen Curry (31.6).
George poured in 81 points over a two-game span heading into Friday, but Indiana had allowed an average of 125.3 and a 51.1 field-goal percentage in three straight defeats.
The Pacers (13-8) ranked fourth in the NBA entering that skid, allowing 95.3 points per game. With George not at his best Friday, they put an end to that slide by limiting Miami to 43.2 percent shooting in a 96-83 home win.
"It was a good win for us and we want to build off this," center Ian Mahinmi said after Indiana moved to 6-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 90 points.
Monta Ellis led the way with 24 points, six assists and six steals after averaging 5.7 points while shooting 30.4 percent over his previous three games. George added 23 points and eight rebounds and Mahinmi scored a season-high 18 with 12 boards.
"(Ellis) came out (after halftime) and said `Enough is enough,'" coach Frank Vogel said. "He willed us to victory with his defensive intensity."
Indiana extended its series win streak to three with a 94-82 win at Detroit on Nov. 3. The Pacers limited the Pistons to a season low in points and a 38.4 field-goal percentage.
Rodney Stuckey led the way with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting in that contest, though George only scored 16 on 5-of-17 shooting. Stuckey has hurt his former club with a combined 47 points in his last two trips back to The Palace of Auburn Hills.
The Pistons (13-11) had their five-game home winning streak snapped Wednesday when Matt Barnes hit a half-court shot with 1.1 seconds left to give Memphis a 93-92 victory. They had averaged 112.0 points and shot 40.6 percent from 3-point range during the streak.
Detroit will look to bounce back on its home court in the opener of a three-game stay after snapping a two-game losing streak with Friday's 107-95 win at Philadelphia.
Reggie Jackson has averaged 22.5 points and made 20 of 47 (42.6 percent) from long range in his 11 home games. Jackson and Marcus Morris finished with 21 apiece, while Andre Drummond had 18 points and 16 rebounds against the 76ers.
"We know how much this win means for the team," Morris told the team's official website. "We just wanted to come here and take care of business."
Drummond had 25 points and 29 rebounds in the first meeting with Indiana for only the second 25/25 game by a Pistons player in the last 30 years. Detroit, which held a 50-42 advantage on the boards, ranks in the NBA's top 10 with a plus-2.6 margin.
The Pistons could again have the edge in that area against an Indiana team that has struggled with a minus-6.3 rebounding margin over its last four games.