Tuesday , Jan , 20 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Best of the East meet in Indiana

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – The top two teams in the Central
Division and Eastern Conference will lock horns tonight, as the division-
leading Indiana Pacers welcome the sizzling Detroit Pistons to Conseco
Fieldhouse.

Indiana has already defeated the Pistons twice this season. The Pacers took
home an 89-87 win on October 29, 2003 at The Palace of Auburn Hills, and also
defeated Detroit, 80-75, on December 19, 2003 in front of their home crowd.

The Pistons, who trail the Pacers by 2 1/2 games in the Central Division, come
into tonight’s contest fresh off collecting their 13th straight win, which
tied a franchise record. Chauncey Billups scored 14 of his 18 points in the
fourth quarter, as Detroit defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 85-77, on Monday at
The Palace.

Mehmet Okur netted 15 points and Chucky Atkins added 14 in the win for
Detroit, which closed the game with a 12-0 spurt. Richard Hamilton chipped in
13 points and six assists and Ben Wallace pulled down 16 rebounds for the
Pistons, who halted a six-game losing streak versus the Spurs.

Detroit, which has won four straight on the road, is 11-8 as the visitor this
season.

The top team in the Central Division and Eastern Conference, the Pacers, who
have a league-best 32 wins, come into tonight’s contest on a four- game
winning streak. Reggie Miller’s three-pointer with 55.3 seconds remaining
broke a tie and propelled Indiana to a 100-97 win over the Atlanta Hawks on
Monday at Philips Arena.

Miller, who finished with 13 points, hit an off-balance three-pointer with the
shot clock winding down to break a 93-93 tie and give the Pacers the lead for
good.

Jermaine O’Neal led Indiana with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Ron Artest added
22 points and Al Harrington had 15 for the Pacers, who swept the four-game
season series with the Hawks. The Pacers swept the season series for the first
time since the 1976-77 season.

O’Neal has scored at least 20 points in each of his last five games. He also
recorded his 27th double-double of the season in Monday’s win.

The Pacers, who have won five in a row at home, are an impressive 16-4 as the
host this season.

The road team has won six of the last nine meetings in this series. The Pacers
have won three in a row and four of their last five against Detroit, which has
lost two straight after winning its last three at Indiana.

DET IND