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West leads Pacers to win over Pistons

The SportsXchange

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- David West didn't think he could be much of a factor offensively on Saturday night. His teammates refused to believe that.

West scored 19 of his game-high 23 points in the second half to lead the Indiana Pacers to their third consecutive victory, an 88-77 win over the Detroit Pistons at The Palace on Saturday night.

Playing in his 10th season, West is averaging a team-high 17.6 points with Danny Granger sidelined by a knee injury.

"He was telling us the whole time his shots were not falling today but we told him to keep shooting because we know he's a road warrior," point guard George Hill said. "When it really matters, he's going to be there. It just shows what a true leader is about."

Hill supplied 18 points and seven assists while Paul George piled up 15 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and four steals for the Pacers (13-11), who led most of the way. Indiana, ranked No. 1 defensively in points allowed (91) and field-goal percentage (41.0), held the Pistons (7-19) to 38.6 percent shooting.

"We're just trying to be solid early on," West said of Indiana's stout defense. "We were having difficulty winning games and we understand if we play solid defensively, we'll give ourselves a chance to win. We've been dependent on that throughout the year. When our offense is down, we've been able to rely on our togetherness defensively."

Greg Monroe's 18 points and eight rebounds topped the Pistons, who have lost four in a row and six of their last seven. Rodney Stuckey added 15 points and seven assists and rookie Andre Drummond chipped in 11 points and nine rebounds for Detroit, which lost in double overtime to Brooklyn Friday.

"It came out to be a grind game in the last eight minutes and they did what they do best, they win grind games," Drummond said. "David West hit a lot of tough shots. It was a learning game for us today."

Hill, the Pacers' point guard, had his second big game in as many nights. He was coming off his first career triple-double against Philadelphia on Friday. George, who averaged 25 points in his last six games, shot 6-for-16 from the field but made all-around contributions.

"Paul is one of those guys who doesn't really tire," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "It takes a lot to wear him down. He's kind of like (Chicago's) Luol Deng, he can play 40 minutes a game. He stayed effective on both ends of the court, so I stayed with him."

The team's leading scorers this season, West and Monroe, were quiet in the first half as West had four points while Monroe managed just five. That changed in the third quarter, with West scoring three quick baskets and Monroe powering for nine points. Monroe's backup, Drummond, had a putback dunk, took a charge and blocked a shot in the final minute but Indiana still carried a 63-60 lead into the fourth.

When West posted up Drummond for a layup with 5:20 remaining, the Pacers' lead was 73-66. Hill made a corner 3-pointer to increase the advantage to double digits and West tossed in a midrange shot to make it 79-66. West put on the finishing touches with another mid-range shot for an 86-72 lead.

"At the 8:23 mark of the fourth quarter, it's a two-point game," Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. "But we got stale. You look at the amount of times we got into the paint, versus them, we just weren't able to finish and deliver like they were."

Pacers center Roy Hibbert suffered a left thigh bruise blocking a Monroe shot in the final minute of the first half and did not return.

NOTES: Pacers starting guard Lance Stephenson missed his second consecutive game with a sprained right ankle. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Stephenson is improving and could return for Tuesday's road game at Milwaukee. ... Detroit has won 10 of its last 14 at home against Indiana. ... Pacers reserve forward Tyler Hansbrough, who averaged 14.7 points and 8.7 rebounds against the Pistons last season, had 11 points and six rebounds. ... The Pistons' 7-18 record entering the game tied their second-worst start after 25 games in franchise history. They were 5-20 last season and also had 7-18 records in 1962-63, 1963-64 and 2010-11. ... Detroit forward Corey Maggette, averaging 16.2 points for his career, has scored double figures in just two games this season. ... Indiana has been out-rebounded in just six of its 24 games. ... George took 500 extra shots after returning from a West Coast trip early this month and has continued that routine daily. That has sparked his recent offensive surge, according to Vogel. "It's changed his season around," Vogel said. "He's shooting the ball with great confidence."

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