INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 27 (Ticker) -- Reggie Miller
and Jermaine O'Neal
combined to get the Indiana Pacers a key victory.
Miller scored 24 points and O'Neal added 16 and 11 rebounds in
his second game back as the Pacers ended a three-game losing
streak with a 100-82 victory over the New Orleans
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Indiana opened the season 10-3 but has won just three of 13
O'Neal, who had an arbitrator reduce his 25-game suspension
stemming from the brawl against the Pistons on November 19 to
just 15 games, scored nine points in the first quarter. He
keyed a 10-2 run in the period as the Pacers led for most of the
"I feel my game coming back," O'Neal said. "I got off to a good
start in the first quarter, then ran out of gas in the second,
so I still have a ways to go on the conditioning part. I can
work on that. I just want to start to feel comfortable again
and be a presence on both ends of the court."
Miller had 12 points in the second quarter, including a stretch
of 10 straight as the Pacers opened a 55-41 lead at the half.
The 39-year-old guard has scored 20 or more in three straight
"It's good to get a win and stop the bleeding," Miller said.
"This team needs to find victories any way we can. When
Jermaine gets out to a good start like that, it really helps me
on the perimeter."
, a 19-year-old Hornets rookie, got his first career
start and drew Miller as his defensive assignment. Smith had a
couple of spectacular dunks, but fell victim to some of Miller's
"He's a good player," said Miller, who finished 8-of-15 from the
floor. "He just needs to become a little more consistent.
Some of these young guys have only seen highlight clips of me
and haven't had to guard me before. I can get by on some tricks
for a little bit."
Smith did not fare well on offense, either, scoring 10 points on
scored a career-high 28 points for the Hornets, who
were shorthanded after trading David Wesley
to Houston for Jim Jackson
and Bostjan Nachbar
earlier on Monday. Dan Dickau
14 in the loss.
"It's just a situation where I got my confidence up and I was
able to stay in rhythm and make shots," Nailon said. "It
doesn't really mean much in a losing effort."
The Hornets allowed the Pacers to shoot 51 percent (34-of-67) -
just the fourth time this season Indiana has made at least half
its shots. The Pacers scored 100 points for just the second
time in their last 14 games.
"It's been our Achilles' heel all year," Hornets forward P.J. Brown
said. "We continue to come in at halftime with teams
shooting a high percentage nearly every game. It's hard for any
team to win when they do that."
New Orleans has lost six straight games and 25 of 27 this