Pistons hope to solve home woes in post-Smith era

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Detroit Pistons will begin life without Josh Smith on Friday night when they welcome the Indiana Pacers to The Palace of Auburn Hills.

In a rather stunning move, the Pistons released Smith on Monday despite two- plus years and close to $30 million remaining on his contract, which he signed prior to last season.

Detroit's trio of big men - Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond - have not worked as a unit. It's now expected head coach Stan Van Gundy will keep Monroe and Drummond together with Kyle Singler replacing Smith in the starting lineup.

"Probably a few more post-ups for Andre and Greg and more plays for Jodie (Meeks) and (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope)," Van Gundy told the Detroit Free Press. "That's where I'd say the majority of that is going to come from. We're gonna ride (Monroe) in the post. We've done that when he's been in there, but he'll get more minutes now."

Detroit has dropped four in a row after a two-game winning streak. The Pistons have lost 12 straight at The Palace with their last home victory coming on Nov. 7 against Milwaukee.

The Pistons haven't played since a 110-105 road loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday.

Brooklyn had a 15-point fourth-quarter lead cut down to one after Kentavious Caldwell-Pope buried a 3-point shot with 9.8 seconds left. The Nets held on the rest of the way.

Caldwell-Pope finished with 20 points and Drummond had 18 along with 20 rebounds -- 13 on the offensive end. However, the Pistons couldn't complete the rally and fell for the 17th time in 19 games.

Monroe delivered 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and pulled down eight boards in the loss.

The Pistons hit the road for three straight following Friday's contest.

The Pacers have won two in a row, including a 12-point victory over the New Orleans Pelicans at home on Tuesday night.

George Hill was in the Indiana lineup for the first time all season and helped the Pacers to a 96-84 win. Hill, who missed Indiana's first 28 games due to a right knee contusion sustained in the preseason, scored a team-high 15 points off the bench in 21 minutes of action.

"He looked great out there," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of Hill. "He just played a great game on both ends."

Roy Hibbert supplied 14 points, while Solomon Hill and David West each posted 13 points in the win. C.J. Miles and Watson went for 11 and 10 points, respectively.

These two Central Division rivals haven't met yet this season, but Indiana has won two in a row and eight of the last nine against Detroit. The Pacers have won four straight at The Palace.