INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The Indiana Pacers picked up right where they left off before the All-Star break.
With Brandon Rush(notes) providing late-game dramatics, and second-year forward Tyler Hansbrough(notes) scoring 21 points, the Pacers remained one of the NBA’s hottest February teams with a 102-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
“They’re not all going to be pretty,” Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel said. “Sometimes you have to grind it out and get the ‘W.”’
The ‘W’—and Rush’s dramatics—came on a late-game dunk.
With 11.1 seconds remaining, Austin Daye’s(notes) 17-foot jump shot gave the Pistons their first lead since the first quarter, but on the ensuing possession, Danny Granger(notes) drew a double-team and found Rush—who scored nine points starting for injured Mike Dunleavy—for a dunk in traffic with 5.4 seconds remaining.
The Pistons rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit.
“Our guys showed a lot of courage tonight,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “We faced a team that was scrappy. In the second half, I thought we did an outstanding job.”
Rodney Stuckey(notes) drove the lane on the Pistons possession after Rush’s dunk, but his pass out of bounds secured the victory for Indiana, which won for the ninth time in 12 games since Vogel took over for Jim O’Brien in late January.
“We are gaining confidence and are learning how to win and close games out. We will be playing top teams and we have to make top plays to win these games.”
Hansbrough had a team high 12 rebounds, with eight coming on the offensive end for Indiana, which held a tenuous lead much of the fourth quarter before the final back-and-forth sequence.
On Indiana’s game-winning play, Kuester said McGrady played solid defense on Granger, who had 17 of his 18 points in the second half.
“What we had done was a great job on Granger,” Kuester said. “He had a great stop and then all of a sudden, we loaded and Rush slashed behind our guys and I didn’t think he could find him, but he did. It was a great play.”
“Greg Monroe had a terrific night,” Vogel said. “We couldn’t stop him.”
The victory allowed Indiana to remain one of the league’s hottest teams.
The Pacers, who won seven of 10 games before the All-Star break, have won their two games coming out of the break, having won in Washington, 113-96, Tuesday.
“It felt good to be in the game like that, but I’d rather come out with a win,” Monroe said. “We have to play the whole game like we did the fourth quarter and we might have a different outcome.”
Point guard Darren Collison(notes) had 11 points and six assists, and rookie Paul George(notes) added 10 points each for Indiana, which shot 44.2 percent from the field despite making just 3 of 17 3-point field goals.
“It was a team effort and a big win,” said George, who had two alley-oop dunks in the fourth quarter. “When teams make runs at you and you can answer the bell ring them up, that’s playing NBA basketball.”
Notes: Dunleavy has been ruled out indefinitely after sustaining a broken right thumb against Washington Tuesday. Rush, who played sparingly under Vogel, started in his place. Vogel said he is keeping rookie George with the second team to maintain continuity on that unit… . Rookie point guard Lance Stephenson(notes) was active for Indiana Wednesday, and in Dunleavy’s absence, he has moved into the third point guard role… . Eight-time tennis grand slam champion Jimmy Connors attended Wednesday’s game.