INDIANAPOLIS – The Detroit Pistons almost coughed up another big lead to the Indiana Pacers.
But Myles Turner’s go-ahead 3-point attempt with 28 seconds left was short and Pistons free throws allowed the road team to escape with a 104-98 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night.
The Pistons (16-13) only managed nine points after the 9-minute mark to allow the Pacers to nearly overcome a 16-point deficit; they overcame a 22-point deficit last month on the same floor.
But Andre Drummond’s 23 points and 13 rebounds were enough to allow the Pistons to complete a perfect two-game trip after a seven-game losing streak.
Avery Bradley (right adductor strain) was a late scratch and rookie Luke Kennard received the first start of his career.
But Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy put Reggie Bullock on Pacers star Victor Oladipo, who scored 26 points, but was only 8-for-22 from the field.
Bullock scored 15 points and Stanley Johnson scored 13 points off the bench.
Drummond added three blocked shots and a steal.
Turner finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots for the Pacers (16-13).
It’s a key victory for the Pistons, who now have a 2-1 advantage against their Central Division rival. One game in the series remains at the Palace (Dec. 26).
The Pistons did a good job defensively against the Pacers, a top-10 offense, for most of the game. They held the Pacers to 74 points through the first three quarters.
Drummond has his way with Turner historically, but the two big men battled to a standstill in the first half.
Drummond bullied his way to eight points and eight rebounds in the first quarter on his way to 12 points and eight rebounds in the first half.
Turner, who has a solid midrange game, nailed an assortment of jumpers on his way to 15 points and three rebounds.
Two games removed from being replaced in the starting lineup by Bullock, Johnson had one of his best games of the season.
He looked confident in knocking down his first four shot attempts.
He pulled up from midrange on the first two buckets.
And his 3-pointer at the 8:17 mark of the second quarter gave the Pistons a 39-25 lead.
Bullock did a solid job on Oladipo for most of the first half.
But Oladipo erupted for three 3-pointers in the last 2:22 of the first half to stake the Pacers to a 54-52 halftime lead.
The first triple cut the deficit to four at 47-43.
And his 3-pointer before the halftime buzzer sent the home crowd into a frenzy.
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