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Originally published Monday, March 26, 2012 at 9:54 PM

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Pacers quietly showing they're beasts in the East | NBA

Indiana beats Miami 105-90

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INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome to the spotlight, Indiana Pacers.

While the Dwight Howard contract saga in Orlando, the emergence of Jeremy Lin in New York and team success in Chicago and Miami grabbed attention in the Eastern Conference, Indiana quietly became one of the best teams in the league.

The Pacers needed something bigger than just being steady to awaken the basketball world, and they got the signature victory they have sought since the All-Star break, beating the Miami Heat 105-90 on Monday night.

"Our guys had a determination that they weren't going to be denied tonight," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "We're competing at a high level. We're looking forward to making a serious run at the end of the season and be one of the hottest teams going into the playoffs."

Danny Granger scored 25 points, Darren Collison scored 20, and Paul George had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who have won four of five.

"It's a confidence builder, showing that if we play the right way, believe in each other, play team defense, that we can be one heck of a team," Pacers guard George Hill said. "Anytime that you get a win like this, you have to build off of it."

LeBron James had 24 points and nine rebounds, and Dwyane Wade had 24 points and six assists for Miami. The Heat, coming off a 103-87 defeat at Oklahoma City on Sunday night, lost by double digits in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"Sometimes, you go through these spells in an NBA season and it's a struggle," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said.

"Some of the turnovers you can live with," James said. "We're attacking, and guys are trying to make a winning play. But some of the ones where you're just careless, you don't like those turnovers. I know I had a few careless ones tonight."

Miami (35-13) lost for the fourth time in eight games overall and is running out of time to catch Chicago (40-10) for the best record in the East. The Heat were outrebounded 49-33 and scored just four fast break points.

Stuckey hits game-winner

WASHINGTON — Rodney Stuckey scored half of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including the winning 20-foot jumper with 0.2 seconds left, and offensively-challenged Detroit ended a five-game losing streak by erasing a 13-point deficit to beat Washington 79-77.

Detroit managed to win despite being held below 80 points for the third game in a row; that last happened to the Pistons in December 2003.

Greg Monroe, who played home games on the Wizards' court while at Georgetown, had 10 points and 10 rebounds, including a putback off a miss by Tayshaun Prince with 23 seconds remaining to put Detroit ahead 76-75. After Detroit's Ben Wallace made one free throw, Washington's Nene tied it at 77 on a hook shot with 5.8 seconds to go.

That left enough time for Stuckey, out of Kentwood High and Eastern Washington, get up court and pull up for the decisive shot that capped a comeback against the no-lead-is-safe Wizards. Stuckey missed the past three games with a sore big left toe.

Notes

Ty Lawson tied a season high with 27 points, Arron Afflalo added 22 and Denver shot 50 percent to beat host Chicago 108-91. The Nuggets, playing their third game in four nights as part of a seven-game road swing, got their first win three games into the trip. Al Harrington added 17 points and Andre Miller chipped in with 12 points and 10 assists for the Nuggets, who are scrapping for a playoff spot in the West.

Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points, delivering his highest total in two months without the injured Amare Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin, and the host Knicks beat the Bucks 89-80 to increase their lead for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. Shortly after learning Stoudemire was lost indefinitely with a bulging disk in his back, the Knicks opened a 2 ½-game lead over the Bucks and prevented Milwaukee from winning the season series and clinching the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record. Baron Davis scored 13 points in his first start in place of Lin, who has a sore right knee. Stoudemire left the Knicks' victory over Detroit on Saturday after saying his back tightened up.

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