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After Bomb Threat Delay, Pacers Topple the Pistons

Associated Press
Saturday, March 26, 2005; Page D04

The Indiana Pacers had another bizarre trip to Detroit, with off-court problems again overshadowing their play.

After the start of last night's game in Auburn Hills, Mich., was delayed for 1 hour 25 minutes because of a telephoned threat that there was a bomb in Indiana's locker room, Austin Croshere scored 15 points and Reggie Miller had 14 to lead the Pacers to a 94-81 victory.


Dwyane Wade leaps for two of his 35 points. "Wade, that guy is a tough cover," Suns Coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He got away from us a few times." (Gary I. Rothstein -- Reuters)

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"It's very different when you have your lives threatened. It was disturbing," Miller said.

Chauncey Billups scored 23 points for the Pistons, who had won 12 straight at home.

Auburn Hills, Mich., chief of police Doreen Olko said The Palace -- the site of the melee between the teams four months ago -- received a call about an hour before the scheduled start with a very specific threat that there was a bomb in the locker room.

The room was searched in the morning with dogs, and it was searched again in the afternoon. Nothing was found, and the building was not evacuated. Security was posted outside the door at all times.

The Pistons had what they called "playoff-level security" in place for Indiana's first game at The Palace since the Nov. 19 brawl between the teams at the arena that spilled into the stands, and back onto the court. Indiana won the infamous game 97-82.

Several Pacers mingled with the crowd before last night's game, signing autographs, and Jermaine O'Neal even took pictures with fans on his way to the court at halftime. O'Neal, out for the rest of the regular season with a shoulder injury, was suspended for 15 games for his role in one of the worst brawls in U.S. sports history.

Stephen Jackson, who was suspended for 30 games after swinging at fans in the stands, had 12 points and was booed every time he touched the ball.

After the pregame drama, the game was dull -- until a confrontation with 5 minutes 50 seconds left. Detroit's Ben Wallace fouled Scot Pollard at the top of the key, then Pollard lightly swung an elbow at Wallace's chest. Wallace responded with harsh words and the two were face to face before being separated. Pollard was called for a technical.

With 1:59 remaining, fans were fighting each other in the upper section of the lower level and one man was removed by several security guards. Fans were permitted to buy alcohol until after the third quarter, following the usual policy.

HEAT 125, SUNS 115: In Miami, Dwyane Wade and scored 35 points -- including a 65-foot heave to end the third quarter -- and the Heat set a season high for points, clinched the Southeast Division title and moved past Phoenix for the NBA's best record.

Shaquille O'Neal had 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and Eddie Jones added 23 for Miami (53-17), which won its 16th straight game at home.

Quentin Richardson led the Suns (51-17) with 26 points, Amare Stoudemire added 25 and Steve Nash had 19 points and 14 assists. Phoenix lost for the first time in its last 10 road games.


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