AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Darrell Armstrong made a free throw with 0.9 seconds left to give the Indiana Pacers a 93-92 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

Richard Hamilton had tied the game with a pair of free throws with 3.5 seconds to go, but Carlos Delfino ran over Armstrong as both went for a loose ball at the other end.

After both Hamilton and Flip Murray got in his face, Armstrong missed the first free throw but sank the second.

Rasheed Wallace’s desperation pass flew out of bounds, giving the Pacers the win.

The Pistons also lost Chauncey Billups to a strained right calf in the final minute of the game. His status for Sunday’s game against Phoenix is unknown.

Jermaine O’Neal missed Indiana’s previous game with flu-like symptoms, but returned with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Al Harrington added 16 points for Indiana, while Jaamal Tinsley had 14 points and nine assists.

Billups led Detroit with 23 points and a career-best 12 rebounds before the injury. Hamilton, coming off a career-high 51 points in Wednesday’s triple-overtime loss to the Knicks, finished with 22 on 7-of-18 shooting.

Billups’ 3-pointer with 18 seconds left pulled Detroit within 89-88, but he landed awkwardly and had to be helped off the floor.

Stephen Jackson hit a pair of free throws, but Hamilton’s layup moved the margin back to 91-90.

This time, Danny Granger could only split his free throws, and Hamilton drew a foul from Jackson, allowing him to tie the game.

Indiana led 48-47 after a roller-coaster first half that saw both teams alternating stretches of dominance and futility.

The Pacers jumped out to a 12-2 lead, only to see the Pistons go on an extended run that put them up 32-22 at the end of the first.

Detroit built the advantage to as many as 15 in the second, but Indiana closed the half with a 19-4 surge of their own.

The intermission didn’t help Detroit, as the Pacers quickly upped the lead to 64-50 – a combined 35-7 run. The Pistons missed nine of their first 10 second-half shots.

The Pistons charged back, and pulled within 67-64 on Billups’ buzzer-beating 3-pointer from midcourt.

Detroit couldn’t get closer than three until Tayshaun Prince’s follow shot made it 83-82 with three minutes to play. The Pacers scored the next five points, but couldn’t put away the Pistons.

Notes: The Pacers held their pregame shootaround at nearby Oakland University, alma mater of Indiana swingman Rawle Marshall. Marshall, the school’s first NBA player, was inactive for the game. … Kid Rock, Lions defensive back Dre Bly and Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek attended the game. … Tinsley and Jackson, two key figures in the 2004 Palace brawl, picked up first-half technicals for arguing calls. … Wallace played just 22 minutes while batting a stomach illness and sore ankles.

AP-ES-12-29-06 2253EST


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