INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers used great teamwork to
improve the league's best home record.
Jermaine O'Neal and Ron Artest scored 23 points each, Reggie Miller added 21 points and Jamaal Tinsley had 14 of the Pacers' 39 assists as Indiana pulled away in the closing minutes and beat the Golden State Warriors 116-104 Saturday night, improving their home record to 16-1.
The 39 assists were the most by an NBA team this season.
"We have a lot of guys contributing in a lot of different ways that don't show up on the stat sheets. That's what makes us so tough as a team,'' said O'Neal, who also had 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Each of Indiana's previous six games -- including three that went to overtime -- was decided by four points or less and on the game's final possession. The Pacers seemed headed for a similar finish after baskets by Antawn Jamison and Jason Richardson brought the Warriors within 108-104 with just over two minutes to go.
But O'Neal scored the next two baskets, then Al Harrington and
Miller each had a pair of free throws.
"I think what those close games, those overtime games, are
doing for the team is teaching us how to win games, and even when
teams make runs, teaching us how to continue to do what we do,'' O'Neal said.
"If we don't get out of sync and lose our mind when teams make
runs, then there's no possible way we can lose.''
It was the fourth time this season the Pacers had three players
with 20 or more points. It was Indiana's largest margin of victory
since a 113-89 victory over Cleveland on Dec. 27.
"After the game, I told them, 'I've got one thing to say, and
that's 'Thank you,''' Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "This was a
tough game for them, and the way they approached it, I'm very proud
of them. I like the toughness of this team. I like the way they
battle every night.''
The Pacers never trailed and seemed to take control in the third
quarter, when two 3-pointers by Miller helped them take an 89-76
lead. The Warriors scored the final seven points of the period,
however, on baskets by Adonal Foyle and Troy Murphy and a 3-pointer
by Jamison, who led all scorers with 33 points.
Indiana built the lead back to 10 midway through the fourth
quarter and led 108-99 after Brad Miller made two free throws
following a flagrant foul by Murphy.
Gilbert Arenas had 16 points for Golden State, while Murphy and
Richardson added 14 apiece.
Indiana hit 10 of its first 12 shots and took a 10-point lead
late in the first quarter before Jamison brought Golden State back.
"Sure, we scored enough points on offense,'' Jamison said, "but it's difficult to win when you don't play with the intensity it takes, especially when you're going against one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.''
Jamison hit his first five shots of the second period, missed
one and then hit another three straight as the Warriors closed
within 56-53 with three minutes to go.
Artest, who had 21 points and did not miss a shot from the field
in the first half, then hit two free throws and a 3-pointer,
blocked a shot by Jamison and assisted on a basket by Brad Miller
to help push the Pacers'' lead to 63-56.
Indiana built the lead to eight points before a rebound basket by Murphy with two seconds to go made it 68-62 at the half. Indiana led 68-66 early in the third quarter before consecutive baskets by O'Neal. The Pacers took their biggest lead at 84-70 on a fast-break layup by Tinsley midway through the period.
The 68-62 halftime score matched the Pacers' season highs for most points scored in a half and most points by an opponent in a half. ... Reggie Miller has had at least two 3-pointers in each
of the past 10 games and needs 41 points to become the 18th player in NBA history with 23,000 career points. ... The Warriors had won six of their past eight games and were trying to go seven-for-nine for the first time in seven years. ... Jamison had 25 points in the first half but was just 2-of-6 from the field after the break.
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