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Pacers keep up hot ways with easy 90-72 win over Pistons

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Danny Granger was ice cold in his season debut but his Indiana Pacers teammates remained white hot.

Granger, Indiana's leading scorer the past five seasons, returned from a left knee injury and scored just two points in 19 minutes. The Pacers didn‘t need much from Granger, as they defeated the Detroit Pistons for the second consecutive night, 90-72, at The Palace on Saturday.

"He was rusty and that's to be expected," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said of Granger, who shot 1-for-10 from the field. "Certainly, he's played a lot better in practices but that's what we expected his first game back, his first taste of it. That's why we're not going to throw him back in there 40 minutes a game. It's going to take time."

The Pacers (35-21) have won four straight by an average of 27 points, including a 114-82 thumping of the Pistons in Indiana on Friday. George Hill had 17 points, David West scored 16 and Paul George added 12 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.

They also swept the four-game season series from the Pistons (22-36), who scored a season low while losing for the third time in four games since the All-Star break. Detroit's previous low was 74 points at Orlando on Nov. 21.

Indiana led virtually all the way again, though it wasn't quite as easy as Friday's game when it led by as much as 43. The Pistons were within 10 late in the third before West scored seven points on a 10-4 run to deflate them.

"We knew it was going to be a different game," said George, whose team has the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. "We knew they were going to play with more physicality. Any time you play a team back-to-back, let alone being the fourth time playing them, they're going to be dialed in to what we do. They came out and made it a game early on."

Will Bynum led Detroit with 15 points but was ejected with 8:39 remaining for striking Tyler Hansbrough in the midsection as Hansbrough set a pick. Hansbrough was baffled by Bynum's whack.

"I never really saw it," he said. "I just set a pick and I guess he hit me."

Bynum claimed that he meant no harm.

"It wasn't intentional but it kind of happens during the course of a game," he said. "The game's kind of physical. It's just during the heat of the moment."

Greg Monroe chipped in 12 points and 12 rebounds for Detroit, but missed 12 of 16 field-goal attempts. The Pistons shot 36.1 percent for the season against the Pacers, including a 33.8 percent performance on Saturday.

"Sometimes, it's a domino effect," Detroit coach Lawrence Frank said. "You start missing open shots and start pressing a little bit. They are obviously ahead of us for a reason. We just need to learn from it and grow and get better."

Lance Stephenson's 3-pointer midway through gave Indiana its biggest lead of the third quarter at 50-33. After the Pistons cut their deficit to 10, West scored seven points the remainder of the quarter to widen the Pacers' advantage to 63-48.

Granger finally broke into the scoring column on a baseline jumper with 9:25 left, giving Indiana a 70-50 lead.

Detroit scored nine first-quarter points on 3-for-21 shooting but trailed by just seven because Indiana made eight turnovers.

Bynum's 13 second-quarter points allowed the Pistons to take their first lead but the Pacers finished the half on a 12-2 run to go up 39-28. That was both the fewest halftime points allowed by the Pacers and the fewest scored by the Pistons this season. Detroit's previous low was 34 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Nov. 4.

NOTES: Detroit second-year guard Brandon Knight missed his second straight game with a hyper-extended right knee. An MRI on Saturday revealed no structural damage. "He can't really jump off of it. He doesn't have total confidence in it," Frank said. "The MRI was more for precautionary reasons. It didn't show anything other than what we already diagnosed it with. He'll be day-to-day." ...Detroit lost its four games to Indiana by an average of 20 points. ... The Pistons rank first in the Eastern Conference and third overall in points in the paint (46.1 per game) but were limited to 24 on Saturday. Denver (56.6) leads the NBA. ... Indiana ranks third in the league in blocked shots (6.73 per game) and had six more Saturday. ... The Pacers are 11-10 on the road after starting the season 1-6.
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