AUBURN HILLS, MICHIGAN (TICKER) —Ben Wallace had 14 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and three steals and Jon Barry buried a key 3-pointer down the stretch as the Detroit Pistons posted an 88-78 triumph over the Indiana Pacers.
The victory gave Detroit a split of the home-and-home series between the top teams in the Central Division and helped ease the bitter taste following Saturday’s loss, when a 15-minute replay decision upheld the decisive basket in Indiana’s 88-86 win.
“At the end of the last game there was a little controversy, but deep down inside everybody sort of realized that we didn’t take control of the game like we should have,” Wallace said. “Tonight, we wanted to do that, take control of the game and not let it come down to a last-second shot.”
Richard Hamilton scored 18 points and Cliff Robinson chipped in 15 for the Pistons, who have split their last four games overall but are 2-1 against division-leading Pacers this season.
“I thought that a lot of guys chipped in,” Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. “Richard Hamilton, after a tough start, came up big for us, especially in the third quarter. Offensively, Cliff Robinson made huge shots when we were struggling. Ben Wallace, with 14 points and 15 rebounds, played a tremendous game.”
“These games definitely are important,” Wallace added. “Coming down the stretch, you never know what’s going to happen. Being able to get two wins, it definitely plays in our favor.”
Reggie Miller scored 23 points for Indiana. He became the 18th player in league history to reach the 23,000-point plateau when he buried a jumper with 4:35 left in the first quarter.
“It’s very special because it means I’ve been able to play on a consistent basis and, knock on wood, stay healthy for a long time,” Miller said. “To me, the best part is that I’ve been able to do it with one team. I’ve had a great run here and that’s a blessing.”
The Pacers lost for just the second time in 22 games when leading at the half.
“This was a hard-fought game between two teams that were defending really hard,” Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said. “The difference was that they got a late spurt and it gave them the momentum down the stretch. We had opportunities down the stretch to hit some shots and keep ourselves in the game but we couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
“That was a really, really tough game,” Carlisle added. “I thought that today, maybe more than any other time this season, our guys really showed character and emotional strength to suck it up.”
Indiana was ahead 55-46 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter, but Detroit began chipping away on a basket by Richard Hamilton. A dunk by Wallace knotted the contest, 57-57, with 69 seconds left.
Neither team seized more than a four-point advantage in the fourth quarter and the game was tied, 73-73, when Barry missed a 25-footer and a 13-footer. After his second miss, he ran down the offensive rebound and buried the only one of his eight shots he took, sinking a 3-pointer from the left wing.
The teams traded misses and Chucky Atkins made it 78-73 with a short jumper off a feed from Wallace. Indiana’s Ron Artest, who had a nightmarish outing, missed two free throws, and Wallace made it a nine-point lead with dunks 37 seconds apart.
Indiana made just 5-of-18 shots over the final 12 minutes.
“I think it was probably a combination of their defense and us just struggling,” Thomas said. “We had the matchups that we wanted and we got good, strong looks at the basket but the shots just didn’t drop.”
“Their defense wasn’t the issue,” said Indiana’s Jermaine O’Neal, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. “I just don’t think we shot the ball very well. … They did play well. The second half was probably a mixture of their defense and our shooting.”
Indiana led by seven at one point in the first quarter, but a 3-pointer by Atkins sliced Detroit’s deficit to 25-21 heading into the second period.
Miller had 18 points at the break, helping Indiana to a 44-37 lead.
Artest finished 4-of-20 from the field, committed three turnovers and grabbed just one rebound in 42 minutes.