INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The Indiana Pacers started slowly in a subpar first quarter.
It was a different story once the second quarter started.
“We knew we had to get the game,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “We took it to them. Our bench was spectacular again.”
The Pacers, 34-42 with six games remaining, maintained their grip on the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They’re one game ahead of 32-42 Charlotte, which defeated Cleveland 98-97.
“Our depth is probably our greatest strength,” Vogel said. “We’re playing as a team. We play together. When we play that way, we’re pretty good.”
Detroit, 11th in the conference, slipped to 26-48 with its fourth loss in five games. The only win was a 100-88 defeat of the Pacers on Saturday.
Rodney Stuckey(notes) came off the bench to lead the Pistons with 24 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Richard Hamilton(notes) had 19, Tayshaun Prince(notes) and Greg Monroe(notes) 14 each and Chris Wilcox(notes) 10.
The loss also extended Detroit’s string of road losses to nine, a skid of nearly two months. The Pistons’ last win away from home was a 103-94 win at Cleveland on Feb. 9.
“It is something we are going to have to fix,” Monroe said. “We are going to have to bring extra energy on the road. We just have to match the other team’s intensity.”
Mike Dunleavy returned to the Pacers’ lineup after missing 19 games with a broken thumb and scored nine points on 3-of-9 shooting.
The Pacers used two big inside plays early in the second quarter to change the game from a seesaw affair.
Jeff Foster(notes) came off the bench to follow a missed shot, drew the foul and made the free throw. On the Pacers’ next possession, Josh McRoberts did the same, converting a missed shot, drawing the foul and making the free throw.
The Pacers subsequently ran off strings of 17-4 and 14-4, turning a five-point deficit into a 14-point, 55-41 lead 1:54 before the half.
Foster scored six points to key the first run; Price led the way in the second spurt by scoring six.
“We try to bring a little bit of energy,” McRoberts said of joining Foster off the bench. “Not that the first team didn’t have it; we just need to pick it up a little bit, and we were able to, I guess.
“Jeff makes it a lot easier. He takes at least one or two guys away from me, so I have a little bit more off an opportunity to get to the glass.”
During those stretches, the Pistons made just four of 17 field goals.
Granger scored nine points as the Pacers opened the second half with a 15-4 run, extending their lead to 74-51 with 8:04 still remaining in the third period. Detroit missed four of six field goals during Indiana’s run.
“Indiana just got into a groove,” Monroe said. “They just started executing and started hitting shots and getting easy cuts to the basket. We were flat. We didn’t respond to any of their runs today.”
Granger said the Pacers “just turned it on.”
“We got a few steals, got out in transition,” he said. “That pretty much gave us the cushion that we needed for the rest of the game.”
Hamilton and Stuckey led a late charge that trimmed the deficit to 105-95 with 2:15 remaining, but Detroit could draw no closer than eight points after that.
“We’re trying different things right now, trying to get something going so we can win that road game,” Pistons coach John Kuester said. “But I’ll tell you, our energy is so much better at home, compared to on the road.”