INDIANAPOLIS, April 10 (Ticker) -- With their season at stake, Jermaine O'Neal and the Indiana Pacers played like it.

O'Neal scored 17 of his 29 points in a huge first quarter as the Pacers built a 21-point lead and held on for a 98-82 victory over the Toronto Raptors, who had their franchise-record nine-game winning streak snapped.

"Any player who has trouble getting up for a game like this is not a good player," O'Neal said. "After the Cleveland game (a loss Monday), this city, organization and coaching staff deserves better."

Indiana (38-40) snapped a two-game slide and remained very much alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race, which only became further muddled. Toronto (39-39) lost for the first time since superstar Vince Carter underwent season-ending knee surgery and remained tied with Milwaukee for seventh place in the East.

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Brad Miller, and the rest of Indy's starting five, were sensational.
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One of the three teams will miss the playoffs. Indiana hosts Milwaukee on Friday in another playoff-type game.

"The season doesn't stop today," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "We're in the race. It's good to be in the race. There's four more games to go and you run it."

"We control our own destiny," O'Neal added. "We have the Bucks (on) Friday. They're struggling. We need to jump on them early. We need the crowd and we need a team effort."

Playing in front of a raucous crowd at Conseco Fieldhouse, the Pacers sped to a 37-16 lead after one quarter. O'Neal, an All-Star for the first time this year, wasted no time setting the tone, making 5-of-7 shots and 7-of-8 free throws.

"Jermaine came out with a lot of intensity," Raptors forward Antonio Davis said. "They ran the pick-and-roll well early on and he was able to knock down some shots and get into a groove."

"Jermaine kept us fired up all night," Pacers forward Jeff Foster said. "He is normally a quiet person who doesn't say a lot. But it was his intent not to let us down and not to let us lose."

Brad Miller scored eight points and rookie point guard Jamaal Tinsley handed out seven assists as Indiana shot 61 percent (13-of-21) without a turnover in the period. Meanwhile, Toronto made just five shots and committed four turnovers.

O'Neal also had 15 rebounds and two blocks. Miller added 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Pacers, who nearly blew the lead but regrouped in the second half and won for just the third time in their last 10 games.

Former Pacer Davis had 24 points and nine boards for the Raptors, who had won the previous seven meetings with Indiana and hold the edge should the teams finish with the same record.

"No one said it was going to be easy," Davis said. "It's not like we're going to walk into the playoffs as easily as it appears based on the last few games."

The Pacers nearly undid all of their good work with the worst second quarter in club history. They scored just eight points as the Raptors closed to 45-40 at halftime.

A layup by Keon Clark pulled Toronto within 47-44 in the first minute of the second half. Indiana regrouped and scored six straight points.

"I wasn't going to let us lose," O'Neal said. "I told Reggie (Miller) before the game, if no one else comes through, he and I had to get it done. We couldn't let this team lose again."

A 3-pointer by Reggie Miller rebuilt the lead to 62-50 with 5:43 left in the period. The Pacers led by at least 10 points thereafter, as consecutive baskets by Brad Miller and O'Neal midway through the fourth quarter stalled Toronto's final rally.

"They played hard from the start and they knew tonight was a big game and they made their shots," said Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens, whose club beat Indiana on Sunday.

Reggie Miller scored 15 points and Tinsley added 14 and nine assists for Indiana, which shot 47 percent (35-of-74) and held a 41-32 rebounding edge.

Morris Peterson scored 22 points for Toronto, which shot 42.5 percent (31-of-73).