Pacers stay one game back in playoff chase

A road victory at Detroit runs Indiana's win streak to four games, but they're still behind with three games remaining.

The Indiana Pacers are winning at season’s end, but unfortunately for their playoff hopes, so too are the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.

A 107-103 road victory over the Detroit Pistons Friday bumped the Pacers’ winning streak to four games. But they’re still one game behind the Celtics and Nets in a race for the Eastern Conference’s final two playoff spots.

The Celtics (37-42) prevailed 99-90 at Cleveland and the Nets (37-42) defeated Washington 117-80. The Pacers (36-43) have three regular-season games remaining to make up two games on either team — they lose the head-to-head tiebreakers to both.

Former Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey and guard C.J. Miles rallied the Pacers with a game-high 24 points apiece at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Stuckey hit three jumpers in a span of 68 seconds, the last with 1:59 remaining to give the Pacers a five-point lead.

Point guard George Hill sank six free throws after that to put it away. He finished with 13 points.

Indiana had a decided advantage at the foul line. The Pacers made 20-of-22 free throws to the Pistons’ 12-of-23.

Miles hit five 3-pointers and Stuckey three 3-pointers. They combined to hit 19-of-34 shots overall and 8-of-13 from 3-point range. It was Stuckey’s highest output in 12 games and Miles’ best in six games.

Stuckey spent his first seven NBA year with Detroit through last season. He signed as a free agent with the Pacers and has thrived as a bench catalyst. His 12.8-point scoring average ranks third behind Miles’ 12.9 and Hill’s 15.7.

Six Pacers scored in double digits, including Paul George, who had 10 points off the bench. The two-time All-Star has scored 33 points in his three games since returning from a broken right leg.

Forward David West and center Roy Hibbert also scored 10 points for the visitors. Hibbert also grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.

Indiana finished 8-0 when wearing their 1990s retro Flo-Jo uniforms designed by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner.

The Pacers host the Oklahoma City Thunder (43-36) Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, then entertain the Washington Wizards (45-34) on Tuesday before a regular-season finale Wednesday at the Memphis Grizzlies (54-25).

The Celtics, who are in seventh place, host the Cavaliers (51-28) Saturday, the Toronto Raptors (47-32) Tuesday and are at the Milwaukee Bucks (39-40) Wednesday.

The Nets are at Milwaukee Saturday, host the Chicago Bulls (47-32) Monday and the Orlando Magic (25-54) on Wednesday.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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