<
>

O'Neal has final say, hitting winner with 1.6 seconds left

1/7/2003

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal knew he was getting the
ball. He made sure he came through.

O'Neal's one-handed turnaround jumper with 1.6 seconds left in
overtime gave the Indiana Pacers a 105-104 victory over the
Philadelphia 76ers on Monday night.

Keith Van Horn had a good look at a 3-pointer from the top of
the circle, but missed at the buzzer as the Sixers lost their third
straight.

"The last play was set up for me,'' O'Neal said. "If Reggie
(Miller) was wide open, he would have taken it, but he told me he'd
get me the ball. It was a situation where I knew their defense
would play me in the middle. I knew if I got to the baseline,
they'd have trouble getting help.''

Al Harrington had 28 points and Miller added 19 for the Central
Division-leading Pacers, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Allen Iverson scored 32 points and Derrick Coleman, starting his
first game this season, had 18 points and 14 rebounds. Coleman's
game-tying 3-pointer in the final minute of the fourth quarter sent
the game into overtime.

Kenny Thomas' tip-in gave Philadelphia its first lead since the
first quarter, 100-99, with 3:12 left in overtime. Iverson then hit
a fadeaway jumper to make it 102-99, but he missed two free throws
with 1:41 left.

With Indiana trailing 102-100, O'Neal made the first of two free
throws with 1:10 left. Ron Mercer got the rebound off the miss and
O'Neal hit a turnaround jumper for a 103-102 lead.

After Eric Snow missed a jumper, he stripped O'Neal and Iverson
sank two free throws that gave the Sixers a 104-103 lead with 9
seconds left.

But O'Neal hit an 8-footer with a defender in his face to give
the Pacers the win. He finished with 17 points, including Indiana's
last six, and had 13 rebounds. Indiana finished 2-2 on its road
trip.
"We're in a stretch where we play 14 of 19 on the road,''
Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "We'll take a 2-2 split against
two good teams.''

The Sixers, coming off a 1-5 road trip, have lost 11 of 15 since
starting 15-4. It was their first loss at home against an Eastern
Conference opponent in nine games.

Philadelphia, which trailed by 15 midway through the third
quarter, finally tied the game on a 3-pointer by Coleman with 33.8
seconds left in the fourth.

Coleman then appeared to strip Erick Strickland on Indiana's
next possession, but a jump ball was called. The Sixers got the
ball, but Coleman missed a 3-pointer right before the buzzer that
would've won it in regulation.

"We have to play like we played in the second half the whole
game,'' Iverson said. "We've been getting down too much at the
beginning of games. We just can't do that against good teams.''

Coleman, who started for Todd MacCulloch at center, fouled out
13 seconds into OT. Once vilified by Sixers fans, Coleman got a
standing ovation as he went to the bench.

"That's the best all-around game I've seen Derrick play and he
played against an All-Star,'' Sixers coach Larry Brown.

Harrington shot 11-for-17 before fouling out with 4:06 left.

"This is a real big win,'' Harrington said. "We knew they'd
come back in this building.''

The Sixers got within 71-68 after a 10-0 run in the third
quarter. Iverson started it with a 3-pointer, added a layup and
ended it with a jumper.

Iverson had 22 points in the third quarter after scoring just
four on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half. He had two points in
the fourth and two in overtime.

Game notes
Pacers forward Ron Artest sat out the second of his
three-game suspension for hurling a television monitor and smashing
a camera to pieces following a loss to the New York Knicks last
week. ... Indiana shot 63.2 percent (24-for-38) in the first half.
... The Sixers began a season-long six-game homestand. They are 3-3
at the First Union Center since starting 10-0 at home. ...
MacCulloch, acquired with Van Horn from New Jersey for Dikembe
Mutombo last summer, played four scoreless minutes. ... Both
Coleman and Harrington had technical and flagrant fouls.