INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A couple of bleary-eyed days couldn't knock Danny Granger off his game.
The Indiana forward returned from a right cheek injury Friday night, making three critical free throws late and finishing with 29 points to help the Pacers get beat the Detroit Pistons 106-102.
On Wednesday, the Pacers said Granger was out indefinitely. Two days later, he was back on the court and in the lead role. Granger connected on 11 of 16 shots, both of his 3-point attempts and five of six free throws. He also had six assists and three steals and got lots of help from his friends.
Detroit was led by Rodney Stuckey, who played 27 minutes and finished with 25 points in his first game since collapsing on the bench during a game two weeks ago.
Stuckey's inspirational performance nearly led Detroit back from a 24-points second-half deficit, but the Pistons ran out of steam in the final 2 minutes.
The Pacers led by double digits almost the entire game and extended a 62-41 halftime lead to 24 when Granger completed a three-point play on Indiana's first possession of the second half. They still led 87-70 after three quarters and 92-75 with 9:49 left in the game.
Detroit, behind Stuckey, found a way to come all the way back.
The Pistons scored five straight points to get to 12. Then, after Granger hit a 10-foot jumper, the Pistons scored 15 straight points and took their only lead of the night, 95-94, when DaJuan Summers hit a 21-footer with 2:51 to go.
Suddenly, the Pacers were in trouble and the sparse crowd at Conseco Fieldhouse was quiet.
But Earl Watson grabbed a rebound, raced coast-to-coast for a layup to give Indiana the lead with 2:03 left. Granger followed that by making three free throws and Murphy made two more to give Indiana a 101-95 cushion.
Detroit never got closer than that until the game's final basket.
NOTES: The Pistons have lost four straight and 11 of 13. ... Ben Wallace played 24 minutes after missing eight games with a right patella tendon injury. ... Indiana shot 60 percent from the field and was 9 of 15 on 3-pointers in the first half. ... The Pacers are 3-0 this season against Detroit. ... The Pacers have made 10 or more 3s in a game 19 times this season.