INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 21 (Ticker) --
The Indiana Pacers finally got past the pesky New Jersey Nets.
scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Reggie Miller
reached another milestone with 16 points as the Pacers defeated the Nets for the first time in three tries this season, 100-94.
O'Neal had 12 points in the third quarter, helping Indiana build a 77-62 cushion. The Pacers managed to hold on in the final period after the power forward fouled out and the Nets pulled within four points late.
Miller sank a three-foot finger roll with 1:59 to go in the first half to move into 19th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, passing former Pacers coach Larry Bird.
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Jermaine O'Neal's 19 second-half points thwarted a Net ferocious finish.
"To move past a guy I played against -- sometimes played with -- respected and played for as a coach, it's a great thrill," Miller said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be in the position I'm in now."
"He doesn't get enough respect and he just passed Larry Bird. What more can you say?" asked Pacers coach Isiah Thomas, who played against Miller during his Hall of Fame career with Detroit. "He's playing the game the right way, the way they taught it. He's efficient, he's never taken 30 shots (in a game) in his career."
Keith Van Horn
enjoyed a solid all-around game for New Jersey with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists. But the Nets committed 16 turnovers that led to 21 points as their four-game winning streak came to an end.
"I think there were two areas that hurt us the most -- turnovers and offensive rebounds," Van Horn said. "I think one led to the other. Once we turned the ball over, we did not do a great job of getting back defensively and matching up."
In the season opener on October 30, Jason Kidd
fell one assist shy of a triple-double as the Nets rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter for a 103-97 victory over the Pacers. Kidd collected 15 points and five assists on Friday.
The teams also met at Conseco Fieldhouse on November 13, when New Jersey held off a ferocious rally and came away with a nine-point victory.
"We never had intensity, they did," Nets coach Byron Scott said of Friday's game. "If you want to win in this league, you have to do what we did the last 20 games. ... Tonight we passed and stood. This was not the type of movement we needed."
O'Neal fell one point shy of a career high. He did establish a career best with five of the Pacers' season-high 14 steals and thwarted many of the Nets' passes to the post.
Indiana has registered at least 10 steals seven times this season.
"We were just aggressive from the beginning," O'Neal said. "We matched their intensity on the boards and on defense."
O'Neal has scored more than 20 points in seven of the last eight games. He went to the free-throw line a career-high 15 times, making nine, as the Nets struggled to handle the athletic 6-11 forward.
"When he gets in the post with his quickness and athleticism, he's going to get fouled," Thomas said. "He maintained his patience and composure in the post."
Miller, 36, increased his career total to 21,801 points. The most prolific 3-point shooter in NBA history looks to become just the 19th player to reach the 22,000-point plateau.
"Reggie does what Reggie does, he takes big shots," Scott said.
"I grew up watching Reggie," O'Neal added. "He's a true professional. If you want to be a pro anything, you watch Reggie Miller."
The Pacers also received big contributions from young players on their bench. Al Harrington
had 14 points and 11 boards, while Jonathan Bender
collected 11 points, a career-best three assists and two steals.
Reserve Aaron Williams
made 8-for-11 shots from the floor and scored two of his 17 points off the bench on a 10-foot jumper 2:51 into the second quarter to give the Nets their largest lead, 31-22.
But the Pacers used a 25-7 run over the final 7 1/2 minutes of the period to take a 51-42 lead into the locker room.