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Paul George scores 32 as Pacers beat Pistons 121-116

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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) Paul George had 32 points and the Indiana Pacers beat the Detroit Pistons 121-116 on Tuesday night.

Myles Turner and Jeff Teague each scored 17 for Indiana, which blew a 15-point first-half lead but pulled away in the fourth quarter to win its third straight game. The Pacers (18-18) are 2 1/2 games ahead of Detroit (16-21) in the Eastern Conference standings.

Tobias Harris led the Pistons with 22 points. Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson each had a double-double.

Detroit lost for the eighth time in 10 games, with two of the defeats coming at home to Indiana.

The Pacers hit six of seven 3-pointers in the first quarter to score a season-high 36 points and take an eight-point lead. The margin was as big as 15 in the second before the Pistons rallied late to pull to 66-60.

George and Teague each had 14 points in Indiana’s highest-scoring half of the season. The Pacers shot 59 percent from the floor, 88 percent on 3-pointers and 93 percent from the foul line.

Detroit also shot well, hitting 57 percent of its shots, but couldn’t keep up despite 13 points from Jackson.

Jackson’s jumper early in the third cut the lead to 73-72 and prompted a timeout from Indiana coach Nate McMillan. Jackson’s alley-oop to Drummond tied the game at 77, and it was 92-all going into the fourth quarter.

Indiana’s offense got hot again early in the fourth, and the Pacers built a 103-96 lead with seven minutes to play. George’s three-point play with 3:28 left made it 114-104, and Detroit couldn’t get enough stops to threaten until the final minute.

Marcus Morris‘ two 3-pointers pulled Detroit to 119-114 with 50.3 seconds left and, after a turnover, Drummond’s putback made it a three-point game. Monta Ellis made two free throws before Morris and Jackson missed at the other end.

TIP-INS

Pacers: The win was Indiana’s fifth of the season on the road, and it snapped a three-game losing streak away from Indianapolis. The Pacers are 2-0 at the Palace this season, and 3-13 in other road games.

Pistons: With Aron Baynes sidelined by an ankle injury, Detroit went with little-used Boban Marjanovic as Drummond’s backup. Marjanovic matched up mostly with Al Jefferson, who always gives Drummond problems.

HISTORIC RIVALRY

As part of the last season at the Palace of Auburn Hills, the Pistons spent much of the night honoring great moments from their rivalry with Indiana. The list was heavily populated by their postseason battles in the mid-2000s, with No. 1 being Tayshaun Prince’s chase-down block of Reggie Miller in the 2004 Eastern Conference finals. Not a surprise: The most memorable Pistons-Pacers moment, the brawl involving Ron Artest and fans in November 2004, was not included.

UP NEXT

Pacers: Host the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday.

Pistons: Host the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday.

Kobe Bryant still has it, bounces shot in from near half court

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This was a Nike gala, an event with a basketball theme. The court was lit up from below, there were tables at half court, and people had drinks in their hands.

Kobe Bryant was there, stylishly dressed in black. So was famous model Winnie Harlow.

Know that regardless of the setting, Kobe still has game.

Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala cleared to play vs. Pelicans Friday

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Without Draymond Green in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the opener, and with Andre Iguodala out for the game, the Warriors defense fell apart against Houston. The Rockets scored 34 points in the quarter and came from behind to beat a Warriors team that had been in control of the game up to that point. There was more to it than just Green’s balky knee, but without the Defensive Player of the Year they are not the same.

Bad news for the Pelicans: Green and Iguodala have been cleared to play in New Orleans Friday. Green had an MRI and it came back negative.

Green admitted he was concerned that the injury, via Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Now it is the Pelicans who should be concerned. The Warriors will want to wash the feeling of that opening night loss off them.

Report: Kevin Love was frustrated with move to center

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With Derrick Rose having to start at point guard (until Isiah Thomas returns sometime in early 2018) and Dwyane Wade starting at the two, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue had no choice but to move Kevin Love to starting at center. The Cavaliers desperately need the floor spacing to open up driving lanes and options for LeBron James. Start Tristan Thompson at the five (with Love at the four and Jae Crowder coming off the bench) and it adds another non-shooter to the mix that allows opposing defenses to just pack the paint and force LeBron to be a jump shooter.

That doesn’t mean everyone liked the change.

Love admitted to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer he was frustrated with the move at first.

“It’s been a little bit of a change for me,” Love admitted. “I still find myself spacing a little bit wanting to roll a little bit more and on the defensive end just playing the primary big on their team the whole time on the defensive end. It’s been a little bit different figuring things out on that end, but it comes with the growth I’m talking about. We need to do that and hopefully be a machine when things start clicking.”

Lue put it this way.

“We’re going to try it out and see how it works. He was frustrated at first, but now he’s enjoying it.”

While in certain matchups, when the opposition has a more traditional center, the Cavs may go back to the Love/Thompson front line for a stretch. But the small ball lineup is the way Cleveland should be leaning, even with its clear defensive deficiencies. We saw that in the opener with Love’s dagger three in the fourth quarter.

Love is adjusting, he’s already sacrificed a lot to play with LeBron. This is just another step in that evolution.

Another wing down? Celtics’ Marcus Smart likely out vs. Sixers

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The horrific, probably season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward has left the Celtics with a shortage of players on the wing.

Going up against Philadelphia Friday night, that might be getting worse, reports A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

Looking at the pictures, I doubt Smart plays.

As noted, Smart said he hurt both ankles in the second night of a back-to-back against Milwaukee, the left one in a collision with teammate Jaylen Brown. Smart started that game and played 32 minutes. That’s a lot of time to go to lesser players.

If he’s out Friday, that likely means either Terry Rozier or Abdel Nader get the start, and both are going to see a healthy bump in minutes. Whatever happens, the Celtics would miss Smart in a game where they need to defend Ben Simmons on the wing.