The Indiana Pacers scored their first wire-to-wire victory of the season against the Detroit Pistons, though not without its tense moments. Despite a dominant first two and a half quarters, the Pacers were in need of a strong close to put away the Pistons. Hot shooting allowed Indiana to jump out to a double figure lead, one that swelled up to 20 in the third quarter.
But Paul George was hit with his fourth foul at the 6:22 mark of the third, allowing the Pistons to take control of the game. Detroit responded by outscoring Indiana 28-14 to close the third quarter, trimming the lead to six. Anthony Tolliver was a big part in Detroit's comeback, hitting four of his five three pointers in the second half, his last putting Detroit down just five with six minutes remaining.
George hit three big free throws to make it an eight point game, and while Detroit was able to push the lead to four twice in the final minutes, the Pacers were there to respond each time, coming away with a much needed win in the first of their three home games before the All-Star Break. Indiana shot well all night, finishing with 53% shooting, helping to limit the damage of Detroit's 12 three pointers.
George had another big game for the Pacers. He had 30 points to go with eight rebounds, but an efficient 7-13 shooting with a pair of threes was matched perfectly with a drive to reach the free throw line, shooting 14-15 on the night. George Hill and Myles Turner each played well with Hill scoring 17 points and Turner following with 16. The return of Ian Mahinmi was limited with foul trouble, but was a welcome return for the Pacers.
Jordan Hill had a much better game tonight, scoring 12 off the bench with eight rebounds, three assists, and four steals. On the night, the Pacers lost the turnover battle 16-13, but outscored Detroit 20-13 in points off turnovers. C.J. Miles also reached double figures off the bench with 10. Monta Ellis scored just eight, but led the team with five assists.
Tonight had the chance to turn into another frustrating loss, but a solid close to the game helped Indiana in a big way. Of course, be able to send Andre Drummond to the free throw line as a means to come away with stops didn't hurt, but a four point lead with under two minutes to go is nothing for the Pacers to give away, so for a night, it's encouraging as the Pacers play towards the All-Star Break.
The win puts Indiana over Detroit for 7th in the East, but also secures a 3-1 series victory, giving them a head-to-head tiebreaker should the need arise. The Pacers will host the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night in Kobe Bryant's final visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Lakers and Bryant have been playing their best ball of the season, but there's no reason for Indiana to be star watching.