Pistons 95, Pacers 87
That doesn’t mean he isn’t helping the Detroit Pistons.
Webber joined his hometown team earlier this month and the move has rejuvenated Rasheed Wallace and the rest of the Pistons. Webber and Wallace combined for 37 points, 20 rebounds and eight blocks Sunday to help coach Flip Saunders pick up his 500th victory with a 95-87 win over the Indiana Pacers.
“It’s great, I guess,” Saunders said. “I’ll have a piece of cake somewhere tonight.”
Detroit is 4-1 since moving Webber into the starting lineup last week.
“It feels good to be around Rasheed,” Webber said. “He energizes me on the court.”
Saunders understands that the duo gives the Pistons something different than the defensive domination that won them the 2004 title with the Wallaces.
“I think Rasheed has realized that, with Chris on the floor, the other team can’t use their best defender on both of them,” Saunders said. “If they try to take one of them away, we can go to the other one.”
The pair showed what Saunders meant in the second half. Wallace scored 14 points in the third quarter to help Detroit open a big lead, and Webber had three key baskets down the stretch to end an Indiana rally.
“Those guys can make the game easy for everybody,” Chauncey Billups said. “Sheed was hitting shots and rolling, and C-Webb was getting rebounds, scoring around the basket and doing the things he can do. That makes it easier for the rest of us.”
At 33, Webber doesn’t have the impact he had as a younger player, but thinks he can make up for it with his knowledge of the game.
“Even if I’m not over the rim dunking like I used to be, I think my production can be the same,” he said. “I was fortunate to watch Karl Malone and some other guys as they got older, and they got even harder to check, because now they were always thinking two or three steps ahead.”
Jermaine O’Neal led all scorers with 26 points—adding 12 rebounds and five blocks—but only two other Pacers reached double figures.
“We made plays, but we kind of ran out of steam late in the game,” O’Neal said. “That happens when you have to keep fighting an uphill battle against a team like Detroit. They made plays, too.”
The Pistons started quickly, taking a 23-8 lead after 10 minutes, but the Pacers scored 31 points in the second quarter to pull within 47-43 at the half.
Wallace jump-started the Pistons after the break, scoring 14 points in eight minutes to help Detroit build a 69-53 lead, but Indiana rallied when he came out.
“Rasheed’s a great player,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “When he exerts his force on a game, he’s as tough a player to deal with as any in the Eastern Conference. He was very motivated in the second half.”
The Pistons lead was down to 74-65 by the end of the quarter, and O’Neal kept the Pacers going with eight points in the first six minutes of the fourth.
Indiana tied it at 79 on Darrell Armstrong’s 3-pointer midway through the period, but the Pistons scored the next 10 points, including a pair of putbacks by Webber.
The Pacers didn’t score again until O’Neal’s free throws made it 89-80 as most of the fans were leaving the arena with 1:56 to play.
Indiana got as close as 91-87 on Lee Tinsley’s free throw with 37 seconds left, but Webber’s tip-in with 16.1 seconds left and Hamilton’s free throws 4 seconds later iced it.
Wallace picked up his 13th technical foul in the opening minutes. Wallace will receive an automatic suspension when he reaches 16. … The Pistons blocked as many shots (five) in the first quarter as the Pacers made. … The Pacers picked up four technicals—one on O’Neal for arguing a call and three for defensive 3-second violations. … Saunders is 500-361 in 11 NBA seasons, including 89-35 in 1 1/2 seasons with Detroit. … Webber’s 13 rebounds matched his season high.