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Pistons 110, Pacers 104: No Mer-Sheed for Pacers

The Indiana Pacers put out a solid effort Tuesday night, but just didn't have enough game to keep the Detroit Pistons from leaving town with the 110-104 win. The Pacers never missed Jermaine O'Neal as much as they missed him tonight, as his old friend Rasheed Wallace dominated the action whenever he felt the urge.

O'B knew the Pistons could expose his small ball lineup, so he started Foster and Murphy. Both were active early and the Pacers jumped out to an 18-8 lead and putting together a real strong first quarter. To their credit, Murph and Foster battled all game but ended up being outmanned and overmatched with the athletic bigs the Pistons were able to rotate into the game.

The Pistons regrouped and focused on the tried and true game plan for attacking the J.O.-less Pacers. Pound it inside to the bigs or use dribble penetration to get to the rim. Either play usually results in an easy shot or a foul.

The Pistons put on a clinic late in the second quarter by riding Sheed again and again. He scored 11 points in a 2:21 stretch at the end of the half which set the tone for the rest of the game. The Pacers would need to keep pace by hitting shots, because if they had to, there was no stopping the Pistons.

To their credit, the Pacers worked like hell to keep pace and never gave in until the final buzzer. But, the Pistons' inside game took its toll, as Foster, Murphy, and David Harrison picked up 10 fouls between them. The Pistons just kept coming at the Pacers inside with Sheed, Antonio McDyess, Amir Johnson, Jason Maxiell and the legnthy Tayshaun Prince.

So, in the end the Pacers played a pretty good game but were beaten by a better team. With J.O. and Jamaal Tinsley unavailabale, the Pacers' lack of depth was glaring. Meanwhile, the Pistons had Billups and Rip Hamilton keeping the Pacer defense honest and enjoyed 31 points from the bench, led by Jarvis Hayes. Yep, when Jarvis Hayes plays big for the Pistons, they're tough for any team to beat, let alone this short-handed Pacer team.

Mike Dunleavy had a real nice game, scoring 25 points with 7 assists and 7 rebounds. Early in the game the Pacers ran the floor with great success and Dun led at least three nice breaks with sweet assists. He also threw a crossover dribble at Rip Hamilton that froze him like a statue.

Travis Diener also played a nice game, finishing with 18 points and only 2 turnovers. Jamaal Tinsley hopes to return on Friday and need not worry about losing his starting sport, but Diener has shown he can offer some valuable minutes in the backup PG role.

Finally, no recap is complete without a Stephen Graham update. 19 seconds at the end of the first half. Yeah, I'm not happy. Stacy Paetz kept the "play Stephen Graham" fire burning, though with a pre-game interview of Graham to check in on his frustration level. Natch, he's just working, waiting for the opportunity to play. Me too, Stephen, me too.