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Armstrong's free throw carries Pacers over Pistons

Dec 30, 2006 - 8:11 AM AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (Ticker) -- Darrell Armstrong gave the Detroit Pistons another heartbreak.

Armstrong made the game-winning free throw with 0.9 seconds left as the Indiana Pacers held on for a 93-92 triumph over the Pistons, who suffered a triple-overtime loss to New York on Wednesday.

Jermaine O'Neal had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Jamaal Tinsley added 14 and nine assists for the Pacers, who have won four of their last five games.

"We showed some resilience and toughness," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "You aren't going to find a much more exciting set of circumstances than that one. This is an important win for us, but it will only be big if we can sustain this."

"This is very important for us because we haven't been able to put together that big streak that will put us over the top," O'Neal said. "Now we've beaten the Pistons twice, which could be big in the season series."

Detroit's Richard Hamilton made a pair of foul shots with three seconds remaining, tying the contest at 92-92.

But on the next possession, Armstrong drove the left baseline and was fouled by Carlos Delfino. A 13th-year pro, Armstrong misfired on the first shot but sank the second to seal the win.

"I've been in that position a couple times," Armstrong said. "The first one felt good, so I knew I was going to make the second one."

"I saw (Armstrong) and it looked like he was shooting," Delfino said. "I tried to contest him, but it was hard to control myself. Then I tried to foul him so he wouldn't shoot the ball."

Pistons coach Flip Saunders has been upset by his team's lack of mental focus in the last two games.

"You can't put yourself in a situation to foul somebody at the end of a game like that, when the score is tied," he said. "Our execution our last two games in late game situations, fouling guys at the end, those are mental mistakes, and we are making too many mental mistakes."

Chauncey Billups left late in the game with a lower leg injury after making a 3-pointer from the left corner, pulling Detroit to within 89-88 with 18 seconds to go.

Billups is expected to miss up to two weeks with a strained right calf and will have further tests on Saturday.

"When I saw the rebound come out, I kind of went to plant and take off to go after it. I felt a pop in there a little bit," Billups said. "When I went to take off to shoot, I was like, 'I just can't move.'

"So I hurt it before the shot. I knew it wasn't a cramp because I've gotten cramps before and I would have been able to come back. We just have to monitor it and see."

Billups had 23 points and a career-high 12 rebounds and Hamilton scored 22 for the Pistons, who shot 42 percent (35-of-83) from the floor and committed 19 turnovers.

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