Desperate Pacers jump it up with Pistons

( - The Indiana Pacers will try to fight their way into the playoffs Friday night when they visit The Palace of Auburn Hills to take on the Detroit Pistons.

The Pacers are a game behind both the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics, who are tied for the seventh seed.

Indiana has won three in a row to make itself viable in the postseason race.

On Wednesday, the Pacers drubbed the New York Knicks, 102-86, at Madison Square Garden.

George Hill led the way with 20 points as the Pacers coasted to victory.

C.J. Miles added 13 points for Indiana, which improved to 2-0 with Paul George in the lineup. George provided 10 points in 16 minutes off the bench.

"This was a better test," said George, who scored 13 points in his season debut on Sunday. "On the defensive end, their offense moves so much with back screens and cutting. I was moving throughout the whole game whether it was offensively or defensively."

Roy Hibbert recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 boards in 16 minutes.

C.J. Watson missed his second consecutive game with a sore elbow.

The Pacers have been in the news quite a bit lately when forward Chris Copeland was stabbed in a nightclub incident early Wednesday morning.

"I want to thank all the fans, friends, teammates, coaches and the Pacers organization for their support and prayers during this time," Copeland said in a statement. "I also want to apologize to everyone, particularly the NBA and the Pacers for my bad choice at being out at that time. I am doing as well as can be expected and I will work hard to make a full recovery."

The Pacers play two in a row at home, then close the season in Memphis.

Detroit was officially eliminated from the playoff race on Wednesday thanks to a 113-103 home loss to the Celtics.

The Pistons couldn't stop Isaiah Thomas, who scored 34 points in 30 minutes off the bench.

"It was Isaiah Thomas, it was 34-10 in free throws," Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy remarked. "You get outscored by 27 at the line, it's going to be tough to win, and (we had) 19 turnovers. That's the game to me."

Boston made 33 of its 34 free throws.

The Celtics prevailed despite a pair of big efforts from two Detroit starters, with Andre Drummond finishing with 22 points and 14 rebounds and Reggie Jackson dishing out 15 assists to go along with 21 points. The Pistons also received 19 points and 10 boards out of Greg Monroe in defeat.

The Pistons won the first two meetings between these Central rivals, but Indiana won on Feb. 4. The Pacers are 4-1 in their last five visits to Motown.