West, Pacers earn home-and-home sweep of Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) — If the Indiana Pacers could make the NBA schedule, they would probably be playing the Detroit Pistons again on Sunday.
Probably Monday, as well.
One night after blowing the Pistons out in Indianapolis, the Pacers did the same thing at the Palace on Saturday night. David West scored 16 points and Paul George had a double-double to help Indiana cruise to a 90-72 win over Detroit.
“Any time you play a team back-to-back, they are going to be dialed into what you do, especially with this being the fourth time this season.” George said. “We knew they were going to make it a different game this time, but we take pride in our defense.”
The Pacers won 114-82 Friday night in Indianapolis, and led by as many as 21 in the return leg. George finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for Indiana, which had five players in double figures and got Danny Granger on the floor for the first time this season.
“Our defense carried us throughout most of the game — we held those guys to 33 percent,” said Indiana coach Frank Vogel. “We struggled to make shots this time, but we still ended up at 45 percent, which is pretty good.”
Granger, who sat out the first 55 games of the season with a knee injury, missed his first eight shots before hitting one in the fourth quarter. He finished with two points on 1-for-10 shooting in 18 minutes.
“He was rusty, but that’s to be expected,” Vogel said. “That’s why we aren’t throwing him out there for 40 minutes. He’s been a lot better in practices, but this was his first time at game speed in a long time.”
Will Bynum led Detroit with 15 points before getting ejected for striking Tyler Hansbrough in the groin in the fourth quarter. Hansbrough said he didn’t know what caused it, and Bynum wasn’t willing to be specific.
“It was just something that happened in the heat of the moment — it wasn’t something I planned intentionally,” Bynum said. “There’s a level of frustration when you are getting drilled by the same team for the second night in a row.”
After trailing by as many as 43 in Indiana, the Pistons started the second game of the home-and-home series by missing 16 of their first 17 shots.
“Our starting unit defends as well as any I have ever been around,” Vogel said. “They’ve been doing this all year, and that’s a big reason for our success.”
Still, as good as Indiana’s defense may be, the Pacers aren’t usually holding teams to under 6 percent shooting for long stretches of the game.
“We got a good example tonight of playoff basketball,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. “We missed some shots at the rim early on, and then we got frustrated and started getting away from what we wanted to do.”
The Pacers struggled to take advantage, turning the ball over seven times in the first nine minutes of the game. That’s when Granger checked in for the first time this season.
“It was different, because we were trying to get Danny into the loop — we all wanted him to get into a groove,” George said. “Once the second half came around, we knew we had to finish the game.”
Detroit’s second unit — including three rookies — took a 21-20 lead midway through the second quarter, but the Pacers finished strong to take a 39-28 lead at the break. Bynum had 13 points for the Pistons, but Detroit’s five starters combined for only 11 points on 4-of-22 shooting in the opening half.
Indiana pulled away in the third quarter and, for the second night in a row, both teams emptied their benches down the stretch.
“They have just had our number from start to finish,” Bynum said. “There is no other way to look at it.”
NOTES: Detroit’s starters had one assist and eight turnovers in the first half. ... Charlie Villanueva and West picked up technical fouls for confrontations on back-to-back possessions in the second quarter.