NBA Game Summary - Indiana at Detroit
(Friday, March 25th)
Final Score: Indiana 94, Detroit 81
Auburn Hills, MI (Sports Network) - Austin Croshere scored a team-high 15 points as Indiana defeated Detroit, 94-81, in the Pacers' first game at the Palace of Auburn Hills since the infamous brawl in November that resulted in a major black eye for the league.
Yet another blow was dealt Friday night, however, as the Pacers-Pistons game was delayed for 97 minutes when an unknown source called the Palace of Auburn Hills switchboard saying there was a bomb in Indiana's locker room.
According to Fox Sport Net's broadcast, the unknown source called the bomb threat in at 7:19 p.m. (et), causing the game to be delayed. During a press conference, Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen E.Olko stressed that the arena had been searched by bomb-sniffing dogs several times throughout the day Friday.
Originally scheduled to tip off at 8:00 p.m. (et), the game did not start until 9:37.
"It was very difficult when you have your lives threatened," said Indiana's Reggie Miller, who netted 14 points in the win. "We came here to do a job and that was to play a basketball game. Then the unexpected news almost 45 minutes before tip-off was very disturbing.
"Obviously, the bottom line, this is just a game. It was split down the middle on who wanted to play and who didn't want to play. But it's unfortunate because we've been penalized so much this year, and our team, and nothing has ever happened to the Pistons or the Palace or even the city of Detroit. It's almost like it's always our fault. The league knows it and the league ought to be ashamed of (itself) to let security be as lax as it is around."
Added Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, "We got on the bus and went out in the parking lot until they got the bomb crew in and swept the place again. We went through a period when we just wanted to make sure our players were safe.
"As it went," Carlisle continued, "we got to a point where we were pretty well convinced that it was safe. We played the game and our guys played great."
This becomes the next chapter in what has become a bizarre season series between Detroit and Indiana.
The first occurred when the Pistons hosted the Pacers November 19th. With the Pacers holding a commanding lead, Indiana's Ron Artest fouled Detroit's Ben Wallace late in the fourth quarter, which led to an altercation between the players before cooler heads prevailed.
Moments later, however, a fan threw a cup of liquid at Artest, who charged into the crowd to confront the perpetrator. Several Pacers' players followed and a riot ensued in the stands before spilling back onto the court.
That game was cancelled with less than a minute to play and NBA Commissioner David Stern suspended Artest for the remainder of the season, in addition to suspending eight other players for their roles in the melee.
As for Friday's game, Anthony Johnson and Stephen Jackson, who was a featured figure in the November fight, scored 12 points apiece for the Pacers.
With the win, Indiana sits seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff standings, one game behind Cleveland and one game ahead of No. 8 Philadelphia.
Chauncey Billups scored a game-high 23 points, while Rasheed Wallace contributed 15 points for the Pistons, who have lost three straight.
"We're playing bad," said Detroit center Ben Wallace. "We're playing real bad. We just don't have the energy and intensity that we need."
Detroit, which was without head coach Larry Brown and leading-scorer Richard Hamilton, is currently 5 1/2 games ahead of Chicago in the Central Division standings and in second place overall in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit took a 20-19 advantage after the first quarter before Indiana used a 15-8 run to take a 34-28 lead with a little more than seven minutes to play in the second frame, which ended with the Pacers in front 43-37.
Indiana continued to front run, and following a Miller three-pointer and a Croshere jumper the Pacers' lead stretched to nine, 55-46, midway through the third quarter. After Detroit pulled to within three as Billups poured in five straight points, Indiana used a 4-0 mini-run to take a 68-61 lead into the final 12 minutes.
The Pacers stretched their advantage to double-digits, 75-63, less than four minutes into the fourth quarter and cruised to the final horn.
Indiana won its first game versus the Pistons since the fight...The Pacers opened a three-game road trip Friday and will visit Chicago Saturday...Detroit is 5-3 in its last eight games...The Pistons opened a five-game homestand Friday and will host Boston Saturday...Detroit's Hamilton missed his third straight game with an ankle injury...Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal, who received a 15-game suspension for his role in the altercation in November, missed the contest as he continues to recover from a right shoulder injury.
03/26 01:44:22 ET