(Sports Network) - A pair of classic Central Division rivals will square off for the first time this season tonight, as the Indiana Pacers begin a short road trip against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Indiana, which is scheduled to visit Washington on the trek, won all four encounters with Detroit a season ago. It has won six in a row in this series after losing the previous eight games against the Pistons. Detroit has won seven of the last 10 matchups as the host.
The Pacers fell to 7-2 under interim head coach Frank Vogel following Tuesday's 110-103 setback at Conseco Fieldhouse. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James scored 41 and 27 points, respectively, to lead the Heat. For the Pacers, Roy Hibbert had 18 points and seven rebounds, while Tyler Hansbrough came off the bench to score 16 points.
"We must be able to come out and play 48 minutes," Hansbrough said. "We got their attention and we feel that we are good enough to beat them."
The Pacers are 9-17 away from Indy this season and currently sit eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, good enough for a playoff spot if the season ended today.
Surprisingly, the lowly Pistons are 5 1/2 games off the final postseason spot in the East, but haven't shown signs of making a case for the playoffs. Losers in three straight and eight of 11 games, the Pistons are coming off Monday's 94-79 loss to Atlanta in which Tracy McGrady finished with 14 points.
Charlie Villanueva had 13 points and Rodney Stuckey posted 12 for Detroit, which fell to 0-3 on a five-game homestand. Houston is also slated to visit The Palace, where the Pistons have dropped four straight and are 13-15 this season.
Detroit scored 28 points in the second half and was booed by the home fans.
"I would have booed, too," Villanueva said. "Having a lead like that and letting it slip away and losing by so many points I would have booed, too."
McGrady is averaging 11.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists in his last 31 games compared to 4.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists over the previous 25 contests. He needs nine more points for 18,000 in his career.