Pacers head to Miami after 101-96 loss to Pistons

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 17, 2013 at 2:28 am •  Published: December 17, 2013
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Meanwhile, Miami faced its own unexpected challenge Monday night when struggling Utah played better than advertised in the first half. Unlike the Pacers, though, Miami seized control over the final two quarters and pulled away for a 117-94 win.

Whatever the explanation, Indiana wasn't the same.

Paul George was 4 of 14 from the field, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and four turnovers. Roy Hibbert had six points and four rebounds. Even the energetic Lance Stephenson couldn't get his flustered teammates righted. Stephenson scored a career best 23 points and Luis Scola added a season high 18.

When asked if he was looking forward to the rematch, George said: "I am. The good thing about the NBA is the quick turnarounds."

And there is plenty to work on after Monday's stunner.

Detroit used a 10-3 first quarter run to take a 23-14 lead and never trailed thereafter.

Even in the second half, when the Pacers typically dominate, the Pistons refused fold.

Detroit scored the last eight points of the first half to take a 57-49 lead. Then Smith scored Detroit's first eight points in the second half, and the surging Pistons took advantage of Indiana's growing frustration by extending the lead to 72-61 on Brandon Jennings' layup with 5:20 left in the third quarter. Jennings finished with 18 points and eight assists.

Indiana rallied again, getting within 79-73 after three, but the Pistons answered with a 7-2 spurt that made it 89-79 with 7:01 to go. Scola's layup with 4:55 remaining ended an 8-0 run that got the Pacers as close as 89-87, but the Pistons ran off five straight points.

Stephenson gave it one final push, hitting a 3 with 1:17 to go to cut Detroit's lead to 96-94, but the Pistons closed it out at the free-throw line.

"We had a lot of confidence coming in here tonight. We played Portland (Sunday) night in a game we should have won," Jennings said. "Tonight we knew were playing the best team in the Eastern Conference and we were able to give them their first home loss."

NOTES: Indiana is the NBA's only team that has not been in a game decided by fewer than five points. ... Guard Chauncey Billups was inactive for the Pistons. ... Vogel said swingman Danny Granger is on track to return to the lineup Friday night against Houston. He has not played this season because of a strained left calf. ... Indiana fell to 10-3 when trailing at halftime.