Artest Scores 30 as Pacers Rout Nets
Indiana 102, New Jersey 90
INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 11 (Ticker) -- Ron Artest is reminding everyone that he can score, too.
Artest scored 30 points, establishing a season high for the second straight game, as the Indiana Pacers routed the New Jersey Nets, 102-90.
In 2004, Artest was an All-Star and the Defensive Player of the Year. Long regarded as a stopper, he was averaging nearly 25 points per game last season before he was suspended for the final 75 games for his role in the ugly brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills.
Artest had quietly scored in double figures in each game until Wednesday, when he rang up 24 points against Miami. He followed that by making 10-of-15 shots against New Jersey, including 3-of-5 3-pointers.
"We're still trying to get back our feel for each other," Artest said. "It won't take long, but we still have some work to do. We came out ready tonight, which we haven't done the last couple of games. Everybody was playing defense from the beginning and we didn't let up. I think we just played better than them tonight."
The Pacers bolted to a 28-23 lead after one quarter behind 13 points from Artest, who overwhelmed Nets forward Richard Jefferson. At 260 pounds, he presents a unique challenge for most small forwards.
"He hit a bunch of threes tonight. He wasn't really dominating on the block," said Jefferson. "Normally, on a good night, that's what you want him to do is shoot from the outside. If he's hitting, then you have to tip your hat to him. Whether he is 260 or 210, he was an All-Star before he got bigger. I don't think the extra weight makes him any better."
After leading New Jersey in rebounding in all five games this season and averaging 11.2, Jefferson managed only two with seven points.
The Nets were still within five late in the first half before Fred Jones scored five points in a closing 9-2 surge that gave Indiana a 53-41 halftime advantage. Artest (17), O'Neal (12) and Stephen Jackson (13) accounted for 42 points for the Pacers.
"The last couple of games, we let the other team come out and set the tone," Jackson said. "I think we are a better team when we come out and set the tone. We start out at 110 percent and the effort seems to spread throughout the team and that's what happened tonight."
Johnson, who was not re-signed by the Nets after the 2002-03 season, got his revenge in the third quarter, when he scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-3 3-pointers, as he made the Nets pay for double-teams.
"You look back and you think that they might have broken that team up a little early," Johnson said. "We had some success, but they decided to go another route. I'm a big fan of (Nets president) Rod Thorn and (point guard) Jason Kidd and those guys, you know. Now, it's something to look back on and laugh about instead of being personal."
Consecutive 3-pointers by Artest, who scored nine points in the period, built the bulge to 88-61 with 13 seconds to go. New Jersey got no closer than the final margin.
Jackson scored 15 points for the Pacers, who shot 52 percent (36-of-69), including 10-of-25 from the arc.
Vince Carter scored 18 points and Scott Padgett added 10 and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who shot 43 percent (35-of-82). Padgett started for forward Jason Collins, who was sidelined with a muscle strain in his right leg.