INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The hard part for the Indiana Pacers isn’t over. It takes time to climb out of a slump.
“Once you’re not playing well and you finally get a win, the hardest part is maintaining that consistency,” Paul George said. “You have to understand that it’s going to be different every night, but you got to find a way to build off the first win.”
George had 27 points and 13 rebounds, David West scored 15 points and the Indiana Pacers snapped a three-game skid with a 101-94 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
George hit a 3-pointer from 35-feet to give the Pacers a 94-90 lead with 3:19 remaining and Indiana never trailed the rest of the way.
Josh Smith scored 15 of his 24 points in the first quarter and finished with five rebounds, and Greg Monroe added 16 points for the Pistons, who have lost four of their last five games.
Brandon Jennings hit a 3 to get Detroit within 94-93 before George scored, forced a turnover and West hit a jumper to give the Pacers a 98-93 lead with 1:35 left to play.
“We were locked in really early in this game,” George said. “They made a late push when we were up a good eight points, they made a pretty good push. But I felt our guys were locked in throughout this whole game.”
George’s two free throws with 8:54 left in the third gave Indiana a 58-50 lead. The Pistons bounced back with a 9-0 run and Rodney Stuckey hit a 3-pointer to give Detroit a 74-73 lead with 13 seconds left in the third.
The Pacers gave fans mixed signals. At times Indiana’s sluggish play showed signs of a team that continues to struggle with chemistry, shooting and turnovers.
The Pistons scored 17 points off 10 Indiana turnovers.
At other times the Pacers looked like the same old team fans were used to before the All-Star break.
Bankers Life Fieldhouse was abnormally silent when the Pistons went on an 8-0 run midway through the first quarter and took a 23-14 lead after Monroe scored with 4:19 left in the opening quarter.
Then the Pacers showed signs of life.
They went on a 12-2 spurt to close out the first. George scored to give the Pacers a 28-27 lead with 20 seconds left in the first.
Evan Turner dunked and West scored to give the Pacers a 35-32 lead with 8:03 remaining in the second quarter.
“We had good pace, we threw it up the floor, we attacked,” Pistons interim coach John Loyer said. “I can’t fault the way our guys played. They competed their butts off against the best team in the East.”
The Pistons went on an 8-0 run to take 40-35 lead with 5:13 left in the second quarter.
Stephenson then sparked a 10-0 surge with a one-handed dunk and George closed it out with a 3 to give the Pacers a 45-40 advantage with 3:20 left in the half.
George’s free throw with 31 seconds left in the second gave the Pacers a 50-46 lead at halftime.
The Pistons handed Indiana its first home loss of the season, 101-96 back on Dec. 16 — one of the few positives for Detroit this season. The Pacers won twice in Detroit, including a 112-104 overtime win on March 15.
Indiana hopes Wednesday’s win over the Pistons is the start to getting back to playing at the level they were.
“You get a win, but you have to string a couple together,” Pacers center Roy Hibbert said. “Winning is hard work. We have to see if we can keep it going.”
It won’t be easy.
The Pacers play three of their next four games on the road. They go to Toronto on Friday and will host Atlanta on Sunday before going on the road to Milwaukee and Miami next week.
They host Oklahoma City on April 13 in Indiana’s final home game before the playoffs.