AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- The Detroit Pistons were eliminated from playoff contention, almost fittingly, by a team that came into the game on a nine-game road losing streak.
The Pacers are 20-46 against the rest of the NBA but beat Detroit in all four meetings this season -- the first time the Pacers swept a season series with the Pistons.
"I was very happy with our effort in the second quarter, but we couldn't keep it going once again," Pistons coach John Kuester said. "That's the disappointing part."
Kuester, normally one of the league's calmer coaches, was ejected for rushing the court after an offensive foul was called on Ben Gordon in the third quarter.
"I was trying to fight for our team," he said. "The foul differential was 26-14 tonight, and that isn't even giving us a chance to win."
"We had a great game all around -- Earl was looking for me, and I was making shots," Rush said. "I just don't think the Pistons are used to the way we play."
Indiana led by double figures in the first quarter but only held a 52-49 advantage at the half. The Pacers regained the momentum in the third, moving the margin to 13 in the aftermath of Kuester's ejection.
"We got a little sluggish, but I thought we came out really well and played good second half of basketball, especially defensively," Indiana coach Jim O'Brien said.
The Pacers led by 11 going into the fourth and were never seriously threatened down the stretch.
"We're not going to stop playing, and we're not going to stop working," Kuester said. "I told the guys that we have 11 games and a lot of practices left, and we're going to approach every one of them like we are going to the playoffs. That's what Indiana is doing, and look what they did to us tonight."
Ben Wallace, the only Piston who was on the team when they last missed the playoffs, sat out for the 10th time in 11 games with sore knees. ... The Pacers have beaten the Pistons six straight times, their longest streak over Detroit since a six-game game run spanning the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons. ... Gordon was called for a flagrant foul for elbowing Granger in the head in the fourth.
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