INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 1 (Ticker) --
With his All-Star coach and fellow
starting forward both serving suspensions, Jermaine O'Neal
it upon himself to get the Indiana Pacers back into the win
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O'Neal, who will start for the Eastern Conference in the
All-Star Game on February 9, scored a season-high 33 points and
grabbed 11 rebounds as the Pacers posted a 109-100 triumph over
the Boston Celtics.
With coach Isiah Thomas and teammate Ron Artest
the league until after the All-Star break, O'Neal helped Indiana
snap a two-game slide. He made 10-of-22 shots, converted
13-of-14 attempts from the line and eclipsed his previous season
high of 31 points, set January 29 against San Antonio.
O'Neal's career high is 38, established December 22, 2001
"We just played hard," O'Neal said. "They made their runs but we
stayed focused. ... This team is deep enough. We found out
tonight that the coaching staff is deep enough."
, an All-Star center, had 21 points and 12 rebounds
and Reggie Miller
added 14 and 10 for the Pacers, who took a
late second-quarter lead and never surrendered it.
Brendan Malone served as interim coach and was able to joke
about the experience.
"I had a real good time," he said. "It was fun. I didn't
realize, as a head coach, how long the game was. ... I'm happy
to get the (win), I only need 800 more to get into the Hall of
"He coached a good game," Reggie Miller said. "Brendan was on
the line tonight. He knew when to call timeouts when we needed
... he stepped up and did his job."
had 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and
had 22, six and six, but Boston lost its third
straight game. The Celtics also had a four-game winning streak
against Indiana snapped.
"They are a good team, they are well coached," Pierce said.
"They hurt us on the interior with Brad Miller and Jermaine
O'Neal. Thise are two All-Stars right there."
Brad Miller had 10 points and six rebounds in the opening
quarter as Indiana led 30-23 after 12 minutes. A layup by Ron
extended the Pacers' advantage to 37-27 with 9:22 left in
the opening half.
Indiana was ahead 40-31 with 7:37 to go when Tony Battie
a 10-pointer to ignite an 11-0 burst. J.R. Bremmer
had a pair
of 3-pointers in the spurt, including a 25-footer off a feed
from Walker that put the Celtics ahead 42-40 with 5:07
Reggie Miller then found Brad Miller for a 3-pointer - his only
shot from beyond the arc in the contest - and Indiana never
trailed. O'Neal had an offensive rebound and basket to give the
Pacers a seven-point lead with 2:28 remaining and Indiana led
58-52 at the half.
Indiana shot just 40 percent (19-of-48) in the first half but
made 16-of-17 free-throw attempts. The Pacers also held a 28-21
edge on the boards.
A layup by Jamaal Tinsley
with 7:20 left in the third quarter
gave Indiana a 72-59 cushion. Boston battled back and was
within 78-73 following a free throw by Walter McCarty
to go in the quarter but O'Neal took over from there.
Over the next 90 seconds he had a layup, a block, two offensive
rebounds, a defensive rebound and two free throws as the Pacers
extended their lead to 88-73 with just under two minutes to go.
Indiana outrebounded Boston in the quarter, 16-9, and made all
nine of its free-throw attempts.
Boston, which was routed by Detroit, 118-66, on Friday, never
got closer than seven over the final 12 minutes.
Indiana finished 32-of-33 from the free-throw line and had a
55-38 rebounding advantage.
"Too many rebounds and they were just too strong inside for us,"
Boston coach Jim O'Brien said.
"The key was getting everyone in there (to rebound)," O'Neal
added. "They shot a lot of threes and we needed everyone, even
the guards, to chase rebounds."