INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 9 (Ticker) -- The Indiana Pacers came out quickly, which helped when they struggled late.

Jermaine O'Neal scored nine of his 29 points and Stephen Jackson had eight of his 22 in the first quarter as the Pacers posted a 94-87 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats.

Indiana opened by scoring 13 of the first 15 points and never was headed. O'Neal had four points in the spurt, which Jeff Foster capped with a dunk 4:14 into the game.

O'Neal was 4-of-6 from the field and Jackson 3-of-5 with a pair of steals in the first 12 minutes.

"It's important for us to start games like that ... to not give other teams the confidence to stay with us," O'Neal said. "We're going to be in a dog fight every night, so we need to be the team that comes out and throws the first punch."

The Pacers kept the pressure on in the second quarter, building their lead to 22 points late in the first half. O'Neal had 15 and Jackson 14 as Indiana led, 54-36, at the break.

"The best thing about tonight was that I played well and we won," Jackson said. "It feels great. My role is to try to be aggressive early and get in my groove.

"I know as long as Jermaine is here, I'm the second option, but when there's two of us going, we're tough to stop. Jermaine is an All-Star every day and that's big for us. I feel like I'm playing with (San Antonio center) Tim Duncan all over again."

The Bobcats, who fell to 0-16 on the road against Eastern Conference opponents, battled back within six points late in the third quarter. Charlotte closed to 90-83 with 2:03 to go but rushed shots and wasted too much time running its offense.

Fred Jones scored 12 points off the bench for Indiana, which swept the season series from Charlotte, winning all three games by a total of 15 points.

Melvin Ely had 20 points and a career-high 17 rebounds for the expansion Bobcats, who fell to 10-36 overall.

"We told this team at halftime, no matter what the final outcome is, make sure that you are comfortable with your effort tonight," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "We asked them to give two extra steps of effort in everything they did. That gets you loose balls and layups and they did that in the second half. I love our guys because they compete every night. That's a special group."

Ely continues to do a stellar job filling in for rookie Emeka Okafor. In five games since Okafor went down, Ely is averaging 15.2 points.

"My coaches have always told me to be patient and they would get me some opportunities," Ely said. "Now I've got one (with Okafor out) and I want to show them that they can trust me. This is an audition for me. I feel like I accomplished something tonight by being able to play O'Neal just about even."