INDIANAPOLIS – Over a span of almost eight minutes, the Indiana Pacers managed just one point. In a sequence of 19 shots, they missed 18.
The Pacers’ poor shooting put them in a big early hole, and a brief third-quarter comeback was all they could manage the rest of the way as Chauncey Billups scored 29 points to lead the Detroit Pistons past the Pacers 89-76 Sunday, tying their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-2.
Game 5 is at Detroit on Tuesday night.
“This has turned into a great series. But the pressure is always going to be on us; we’re the (defending) champs,” Billups said.
Just as they did Friday night when they blew an 18-point lead, the Pacers went cold from the field – and this time it cost them the game.
Detroit had a 19-1 first-quarter run and led by 17 in the first half, then took a 20-point lead late in the third period after Indiana had pulled within six. In the final quarter, the Pistons were never threatened.
“It was a tough little stretch when they got back in the game. We knew they would make a run,” Billups said. “But I wanted to combat that by being extra aggressive. I kind of took it on myself, and they followed me.”
Indiana’s collapse came early, with a free throw by Jamaal Tinsley the Pacers’ only point in a stretch of almost eight minutes. After that, Billups scored nine points as Detroit quickly built its lead to 17.
Rasheed Wallace had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Richard Hamilton added 13 points and seven assists for the Pistons.
“It was answering the bell. We couldn’t afford to go down 3-1 to this team,” said Wallace, who guaranteed a victory after the Game 3 loss on Friday.
“I couldn’t get a shot to save my life the last game,” he said. “Coming into tonight, I don’t think there was no pressure on us. We just had to go out and play and execute.”
Stephen Jackson led Indiana with 23 points and Tinsley had 17. Jermaine O’Neal, continuing a playoff shooting slump, shot 4 of 15 from the field and finished with 10 points.
“I was terrible. I didn’t do anything right,” said O’Neal, who has shot just 23 percent in the past two games.
“It is a cycle in basketball. It always comes back to you,” O’Neal said. “I’m a true believer you should never get too high or too low. … At some point, I feel it’s going to come back to me.”
Reggie Miller, who clinched the Game 3 victory with a basket and four free throws in the closing seconds, had seven points on 2-for-6 shooting and missed all four of his 3-point attempts.
“It’s pretty obvious after you play a team a number of times, you find out what works,” Detroit coach Larry Brown said. “As the series has gone on, we’ve tried to be more committed to a pick-and-roll defense, changing up a bit. The big factor was they didn’t get out on the break much.”
Detroit led 21-13 after the first quarter, then the Pacers missed their first five shots of the second period – making them 1 for 19 over a 13-minute stretch spanning the first two quarters. The Pacers hit only 3 of 19 3-pointers for the game.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.