Kelly Tripucka scored 37 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, as Detroit held off a rally in the closing minutes to beat the Indiana Pacers, 118-115, last night in Indianapolis.
The Pistons, who led by 10 points in the third quarter, trailed going into the final period, 89-84. A basket by Tripucka and three points by John Long tied the game, then Tripucka made two straight fielders to put Detroit ahead to stay.
The Pistons led, 114-106, with 3:50 to go but Indiana pulled within a point with less than a minute left.
The Pacers had a chance to take the lead after Detroit's Isiah Thomas missed a shot with 10 seconds to go. But George Johnson missed a desperation shot and the Pistons' Bill Laimbeer was fouled on the rebound. Laimbeer made two foul shots with one second to provide the final margin.
"What can I say about Tripucka?" Coach Scott Robertson of the Pistons asked. "He played a terrific game. He shot outside, drove inside, passed the ball well."
"I feel much more relaxed this year, after my rookie year," Tripucka said, "and I feel like I have all the confidence in the world. Confidence is the key. If you have that you feel sometimes no one can stop you."
Pacer Coach Jack McKinney said he wanted Billy Knight to get the crucial shot.
"It's tough to have a set play when they know you're trying to go to a certain person," McKinney said. "We were looking to get the ball to Billy Knight but he was covered and George Johnson took the shot."