INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Once again, Indiana's defense rescued a
Ron Artest scored 22 points, Jermaine O'Neal added 19 and
reserve Austin Croshere had all 12 of his in the fourth quarter, as
the Pacers overcame horrendous shooting and beat the Detroit
Pistons 80-75 Friday night.
"We came out overaggressive, just trying to get to the
bucket," Artest said. "We were trying so hard to get back our
style of play, we just couldn't find ourselves."
For the second straight game, the Pacers shot under 40 percent,
and they were well on their way to their first two-game losing
streak of the season. Artest hit only seven of 20 shots and O'Neal
wasn't much better at 9-of-20.
"You just try to make your next shot, get the next defensive
stop. That's the only thing you're thinking about when you're
missing a lot," Artest said.
The Pistons shot 51 percent through the first three quarters,
but the Pacers held them to 30 percent in the final period. Detroit
also had five of its 19 turnovers in the fourth quarter.
"They out-toughed us. They simply took the game," Pistons
coach Larry Brown said. "They hustle, they were more aggressive.
Defensively, they shut us down.
"The bottom line is we played three quarters well enough to
win. The fourth quarter, they dictated the way the game was
The Pistons were ahead by 13 points in the first half and still
led by as many as 10 early in the final period before Indiana
Croshere missed his first shot but hit four in a row to pull
Indiana to 64-61. Artest then cut the lead to one point with two
free throws, and minutes later a 3-pointer by Artest gave the
Pacers their first lead since early in the game.
Two more free throws by Artest, a dunk by O'Neal and free throws
by Anthony Johnson and Croshere finished a 17-2 Indiana run for a
74-66 lead, and the Pistons never recovered. Artest, Croshere and
Johnson hit two more free throws apiece in the final 38 seconds.
"It didn't look good," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We
were down 10 but the guys dug down deep and found a way to do it.
With us, it starts at the defensive end. If we're ever in a
situation like that and believe shot-making is going to bring us
back, it's not.
"When you hold the Detroit Pistons to that number, you're
playing great defense," said Carlisle, fired by the Pistons after
The Pacers (20-7), struggling lately but still atop the Eastern
Conference, seemed to come out of a recent shooting slump by
hitting their first five shots for a 10-8 lead. They made only two
of their next 19 attempts, however, and finished the first half
with a season-low 33 points.
They matched that 33-point total in the fourth quarter.
"That's the game right there," Wallace said.
"When you get a team down like that, you have to put them away.
... It seems like we had a couple of breakdowns, and that's all you
need, really, to change the momentum of the game."
A 3-pointer by Billups with 7:05 left in the first quarter
was the Pistons' first in their past three games, a span of 15
straight misses. ... Referee Gary Zielinski pulled a muscle in his
left calf late in the first quarter and did not return. Officials
Bob Delaney and Kevin Fehr worked the rest of the game without him.
... Indiana's Kenny Anderson sat out the second half with a sore
left foot. ... The game was Reggie Miller's 1,270th, tying him with
John Havlicek for 13th in NBA career games and third in games with
the same team. Miller had four points, putting him within two of
passing Charles Barkley (23,757) for 14th place in NBA career
scoring. ... The 75 points by the Pistons were their second-fewest
of the season.