By Jeff O'Brien

Caris LeVert’s transition to fitting in with the Indiana Pacers was delayed two months by kidney surgery to remove a cancerous mass.

Acquired in a three-team trade on Jan. 16 that involved All-Stars James Harden and Victor Oladipo, LeVert didn’t play again until recently.

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 24: Caris LeVert #22 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against Delon Wright #55 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 24, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

His seventh Pacers start was his best yet with 28 points in a 116-111 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.

“I felt like I’ve tried to be aggressive from day one,” LeVert said, “but it takes time.”

LeVert’s fourth 3-pointer with 4.7 seconds remaining enabled the Pacers to snap a six-game home losing streak.

“Very big shot,” Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “His legs are getting under him more and more each day.”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 24: Edmond Sumner #5 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against Sekou Doumbouya #45 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 24, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

It’s the first time LeVert has surpassed 20 points with his new team.

“I love fourth quarters. I love big moments,” he said. “Every win is important for us right now as we try to make the playoffs.”

The Pacers (20-23) ended their worst winless stretch at home since losing six in a row in 1985. The Pistons (12-31) have the Eastern Conference’s worst record.

Edmond Sumner scored 18 points off the bench, and Malcolm Brogden scored 16 for the Pacers.

Jerami Grant led the Pistons with 29 points. Saddiq Bey and Wayne Ellington each scored 16.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 24: Jerami Grant #9 of the Detroit Pistons shoots against Myles Turner #33 of the Indiana Pacers during the second half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 24, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Levert accounted for the Pacers’ last eight points of the first half for a 57-51 lead. The guard scored 15 of 17 first-half points in the second quarter.

The Pistons committed nine of their 15 turnovers to continue a seasonal trend of erratic ballhandling in the second quarter. That meant playing catch-up in the second half.

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“This is about execution and making the easy pass,” Bey said.

The Pistons rallied to cut the deficit to 78-76 with 2:15 remaining in the third, but the Pacers bench responded as reserves George Bitadze and Jeremy Lamb sank 3-pointers. The Pacers finished the quarter with an 86-79 lead.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – MARCH 24: T.J. McConnell #9 of the Indiana Pacers shoots against Dennis Smith Jr. #0 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 24, 2021, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

The Pistons tied the game at 92 on an Ellington jumper with 8:23 remaining.

Detroit had a chance to tie or go ahead in the final minute, but Delon Wright committed a turnover.

“At the end of the game, again, we had an untimely turnover,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.

TIP-INS

Pistons: After making a season-low 4 of 25 3-pointers in Sunday’s home loss to Chicago, Detroit had four 3-pointers by the early minutes of the second quarter and 6 of 15 from beyond the arc first half.

Pacers: They have had a winning record at home for 31 consecutive seasons but must finish 11-5 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to extend that streak.

UP NEXT

Pistons: Host Brooklyn on Friday.

Pacers: Visit Dallas on Friday.

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