Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/19

Game 1: Friday, November 19th
Game 2: Saturday, December 25th
Game 3: Thursday, January 27th
Game 4: Friday, March 25th

Pistons 88

(25-18, 11-11 away)

Pacers 76

(20-21, 10-9 home)

7:00 PM ET, January 27, 2005

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

1 2 3 4 T
DET 26 21 23 1888
IND 20 20 17 1976

Top Performers

Detroit: C. Billups 20 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast

Indiana: J. O'Neal 27 Pts, 9 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Blk

Pacers drop third straight game

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Rasheed Wallace walked to the bench for the last time Thursday night and delivered a blunt statement to the Indiana Pacers and their fans.

"They can't beat us," he screamed.

If the Pacers didn't understand after losing in last season's Eastern Conference finals, they certainly do now: There is no home-court advantage in this rough-and-tumble rivalry.

Chauncey Billups led a balanced scoring attack, finishing with 20 points and five assists as the Detroit Pistons defeated the Pacers 88-76.

Since the Nov. 19 brawl between Pacers players and Pistons fans after Ben Wallace shoved Ron Artest, the teams have met twice in Indianapolis. Both times, the Pistons have won.

Indiana won in its only trip to Detroit and returns March 25 to the Palace of Auburn Hills for the first time since the infamous melee.

It was the Pistons' second straight victory. For the Pacers, who were playing nearly at full strength for the first time since the brawl, it was a big blow. They've lost three straight and five of seven to drop under .500 for only the second time this season.

"I've got to stay positive with this group," coach Rick Carlisle said. "There are a lot of games to play and this team will get better."

As expected, the game was full of emotion.

Indiana fans booed loudly when the Pistons were introduced and booed again each time Ben Wallace scored. The game also was marred by five technical fouls, and fans jawed with Pistons players, sometimes playfully, in the closing minutes.

Ben Wallace finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Rasheed Wallace added 13 points and seven rebounds and Tayshaun Prince scored 16 points and had seven rebounds primarily against Stephen Jackson, who is trying to get back into game shape after serving a 30-game suspension for his role in the brawl. It was just Jackson's second game back.

"We tried to go at Steve Jack because we knew he didn't have the legs," Rasheed Wallace said. "We had to get Tay involved early, and I think what's sparked it for us."

Afterward, Reggie Miller denied a broadcast report that he had told Pacers officials and teammates that he would retire after this season.

"If and when, I'll have the first conversation with Charles (Barkley) and Cheryl Miller," he said, referring to his sister. "Right now, I'm considering getting us off a three-game losing streak. I'll be there all year. That's the only thing I'm focused on."

The game also got off to a contentious start.

Just two days after five Pacers players appeared in a Detroit courtroom to face misdemeanor charges from the brawl, Miller and Rasheed Wallace were each called for technicals in the first nine minutes. By halftime, Carlisle had also drawn a technical. O'Neal, who missed 15 games because of the November fight, was called for another technical early in the third quarter.

Not surprisingly, the Pacers' relied on O'Neal and Jackson to carry the scoring burden.

O'Neal finished with 27 points and nine rebounds while Jackson scored 11 points, had five rebounds and three assists. Fred Jones added 14 points off the bench, and point guard Jamaal Tinsley was especially ineffective after missing Wednesday night's game in Boston with the flu.

Tinsley, still ailing, missed all six of his shots. He finished with two points and four assists and was in foul trouble most of the night.

The Pistons used runs of 13-2 and 6-0 to build a 39-25 lead they never relinquished.

"We know what it takes to win games now," Ben Wallace said. "We've been to the promised land and we know what it takes to get back there."

The Pacers rallied just before halftime, scoring the last five points to close to 47-40. But Detroit opened the second half by scoring five straight points and pulled away with a 7-0 spurt that made it 66-51 with 2:18 left in the third quarter. The Pacers got no closer than eight the rest of the way.

"I like playing here, it's a good rivalry," Rasheed Wallace said. "Their fans are real rowdy and hard on the opposing team and I like coming in here and playing against these guys."

Game notes

Indiana has now lost the second game in a back-to-back set five straight times. ... Prince iced his left calf each time he went to the bench Thursday night. ... Miller made one 3-pointer to give him 2,499 in his career. ... Miller also made one of three free throws to move within two of passing Wilt Chamberlain for 11th on the NBA's all-time list.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 88 76
FGM-FGA 32-68 (.471) 27-67 (.403)
3PM-3PA 5-14 (.357) 6-15 (.400)
FTM-FTA 19-26 (.731) 16-22 (.727)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-39 6-36
Assists 20 15
Turnovers 13 14
Steals 2 6
Blocks 2 6
Fast Break Points 8 7
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (1/0) 22 (4/0)
Largest Lead 17 5

Top Performers

Chauncey Billups Billups
Points: 20
Reb: 4
Ast: 5
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 27
Reb: 9
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 4