CHICAGO, Oct. 31 (Ticker) --
For three quarters, the Chicago Bulls kept their season opener competitive.
Eddy Curry finds himself surrounded in his NBA debut.
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scored 25 points and Jalen Rose
added 19 as the Indiana Pacers broke open a close game with a dominant fourth quarter in a 98-73 victory over the Bulls.
O'Neal scored the last five points of the third quarter as Indiana took a 70-64 into the final period. Rookie Jamaal Tinsley
fed O'Neal for a basket to open the fourth quarter and made a layup for a 10-point bulge with 10 minutes to play.
O'Neal's strong play provided vindication after he struggled to nine points on 4-of-14 shooting in a season-opening loss at New Jersey on Tuesday.
"Coming off a disappointing game, I felt like I let my team down in New Jersey (on Tuesday)," O'Neal said. "Tonight I came into the half and my team was supportive of me. I just wanted to focus in on what I wanted to do and I did that the second half."
After a basket by Chicago's Brad Miller
, O'Neal converted a three-point play and nailed a 16-foot jumper. Reggie Miller
made one free throw and Tinsley sank a pair to cap a 12-2 run for an 82-66 lead with 6:27 left.
Chicago made just 4-of-24 shots and was outscored, 28-9, in the period.
"It was about defense tonight," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "We were something like the third-best defensive team last year. Our goal this year is to be the No. 1 team."
Reggie Miller scored 11 points and Tinsley contributed 12 points, 13 assists and five steals for Indiana, which shot 44 percent (37-of-85). Austin Croshere
finished with 14 points in 22 minutes off the bench.
"We just tried to keep pressure on them and wear then out," Tinsley said. "Down the stretch, we just helped out and rotated well contesting all their shots."
Thomas provided a humorous moment in the third quarter. A 24-second violation on the Bulls wiped out a possible fast break for the Pacers. Thomas danced around in front of his bench before playfully patting official Ron Garretson on the back.
Brad Miller scored 24 points, his best total since joining the Bulls prior to last season. Ron Mercer
added 22 on 10-of-20 shooting for Chicago, which had no one else in double figures.
"They were more aggressive," Bulls coach Tim Floyd said. "They were going to the rim. We relied on jump shooting too much and, as a result, we did not get to the line and did not get any good looks down low."
The game also marked the debuts for teenage rookies Eddy Curry
and Tyson Chandler
. Curry, an Illinois native who had many friends and family in the stands, made 1-of-6 shots in 12 minutes while Chandler made one free throw in six minutes.
"Our young guys still need to learn basic parts of the game," Floyd said. "It is a matter of repetitions at practice and working on fundamentals of this game. It took Jermaine O'Neal five years. I am not saying it will take these guys five years, but you have to realize it will not take three weeks."
The Bulls have now dropped their last 5 visits to Indiana, and 11 of the last 12 meetings overall