INDIANAPOLIS, March 31 (Ticker) --
One of Ron Artest
's best games helped the Indiana Pacers bolster their playoff hopes.
Artest scored 24 points and narrowly missed a quadruple-double as the Pacers posted a 100-81 rout of the Miami Heat.
Indiana remained eighth in the Eastern Conference standings, 1½ games ahead of Toronto. The Pacers did move 2½ games ahead of Washington, which lost to Dallas.
Artest also finished with nine rebounds, nine assists and eight steals. Jonathan Bender added 19 points, including 14 in the decisive second quarter.
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Ron Artest was terrific, nearly recording a quadruple-double with his eight steals.
"He had an awesome game, a great game, one for the record books in all areas," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said of Artest. "He had a chance to do something three, four players in history have done."
Indiana took a 22-19 lead after one quarter, and Bender dunked to cap a 13-2 spurt to open the second. Bender made two free throws and Artest nailed a runner that extended the lead to 49-28 with 3:13 remaining.
Kevin Ollie's two free throws right before halftime gave the Pacers a commanding 55-34 lead at intermission.
"We all played with a lot of intensity, and I think a big key was that we talked and helped each other out on offense and
defense," Bender said. "We were in command of the whole game, which allowed us to play more loosely."
Artest just missed on the fifth quadruple-double in NBA history -- and first by a player on an Eastern Conference team. The last player to accomplish the feat was David Robinson of San Antonio on Feb. 17, 1994.
"I wasn't focused on that, but it would have been nice," Artest said.
A key to the second quarter was Indiana's dominant inside play, which resulted in 20 free throws. The Pacers made 19, with Bender draining all eight and Ollie going 6-of-6.
Indiana held a commanding 50-34 edge on the glass, as Brad Miller grabbed 11 rebounds and Jeff Foster added 10. That disparity certainly did not please Miami coach Pat Riley.
"They absolutely dominated," he said. "I couldn't believe our lack of energy. I'm surprised how tired we looked in the first half. Foster and Miller were too tough on the boards."
Foster scored eight points, Miller added seven and the two combined for nine offensive rebounds to savage the Heat.
Indiana held a 14-7 edge in second-chance points.
"We were just aggressive and got into them," Miller said. "Artest played a great game."
Reggie Miller scored 14 points and Ollie added 13 for Indiana, which made 29-of-35 foul shots. Artest's big effort offset a poor outing by rookie Jamaal Tinsley, who had just three points and two assists.
Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal served the second game of his two-game suspension for throwing punches in a game against Detroit on Tuesday.
Eddie Jones led Miami with 15 points and Rod Strickland added 10. Alonzo Mourning managed just eight points and six rebounds.
"I expect us to come out with a lot of energy and compete and try to win the game," Mourning said. "But it just didn't
Miami has lost five of six and is four games behind Indiana in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot.