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Detroit’s Will Bynum, left center, makes a pass between Indiana’s Ian Mahinmi, left, Rasual Butler, right center, and Luis Scola on Monday.

Pacers fall at home for the first time

– Detroit beat Indiana at its own game Monday night.

The Pistons were tougher inside, tougher on defense and tougher at fending off challenges.

On a night the Eastern Conference’s best team looked like anything but, Josh Smith scored 30 points and Greg Monroe had 13 points and 12 rebounds to help Detroit send Indiana to a 101-96 loss – the Pacers’ first at home this season.

“It’s impressive the way we came in and competed with the way the Pacers have been playing,” Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We have a good basketball team.”

Detroit (12-14) proved it with a nearly perfect game.

The Pistons dominated on the glass with a 55-40 advantage and a 20-9 edge on offensive rebounds. They matched the Pacers’ shooting percentage of 43.2 percent, had one more 3-pointer and nearly an identical shooting percentage on 3s (35.3 to 35.0), outscored Indiana 44-38 in the paint and 22-14 on second-chance points.

For a Pacers team that prides itself on defense and rebounding, it wasn’t even close to their best.

Detroit also finished with nearly as many blocks (seven) as turnovers (eight) and made 5 of 6 free throws during the final minute to hold off Indiana’s last charge.

The most surprising element was that Indiana never tied the score in the second half and never took the lead on its home floor, where it had gone 11-0 before Monday night. The loss leaves the Pacers (20-4) with the second-best record in the league, percentage points behind Portland (21-4).

Paul George was 4 of 14 from the field, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and four turnovers. Roy Hibbert had six points and four rebounds. Lance Stephenson scored a career best 23 points and Luis Scola added a season-high 18 points.

What went wrong for the usually unflappable Pacers?

George said the offensive rebounds got Indiana out of sync.

“I don’t think we were looking ahead at all,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel, whose team plays Miami on Wednesday. “We’ve got to lick our wounds and see what we need to do better.”

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