One night after a bomb threat delayed the start of the much-anticipated return of the Indiana Pacers to Detroit, the Pistons and Celtics will likely get back to the business of basketball without any major off-the-court distractions.
The defending NBA champions had their 12-game home winning streak snapped in bizarre fashion Friday night as Indiana posted a 94-81 victory after the game was delayed for 1 hour, 25 minutes because of a telephoned threat of a bomb in the Pacers’ locker room.
“To be honest, I was hoping the game would get changed to another day, because I was getting tired,” Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince said. “I was falling asleep back here (in the locker room).”
It was Indiana’s first visit to Detroit since the infamous Nov. 19 melee, and there were some tense moments on the court as well as Pistons center Ben Wallace and Pacers forward Scot Pollard engaged in an altercation.
After being fouled by Wallace, Pollard lightly swung an elbow at his chest. Wallace responded with harsh words and the two were face-to-face before being separated. Pollard was called for a technical.
Detroit, which has lost three straight overall—one shy of its season high, was without leading scorer Richard Hamilton (sprained ankle) for the third straight game. He is listed as day-to-day.
Coach Larry Brown missed his seventh game in a row, and is out indefinitely after undergoing a procedure related to the hip surgery that caused him to miss six games in November.
“We’re playing real bad,” Wallace said. “We just don’t have the energy and intensity that we need.”
The Celtics are coming off a 94-86 loss to Chicago on Friday that shaved their lead for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, and home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, to just one game over the surging Bulls.
“It was definitely a letdown by us, but maybe we learned a lesson tonight about what we’re going to have to do to win ballgames,” Boston forward Paul Pierce said. “We have to play each possession on defense as if it were our last, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Following the game, Celtics coach Doc Rivers met with the team’s medical staff to discuss point guard Gary Payton’s ailing back.
Payton played 34 minutes and scored 13 points Friday, but Rivers suggested that at the very least Boston might have to limit the 36-year-old’s minutes the rest of the season and hope his back will be in better shape come playoff time.
“We’re just going to have to find out more about his back,” Rivers said. “But its becoming a concern. We don’t know yet … it’s not anything great. I can just say that.”