Croshere Provides Spark for Pacers
Indiana 93, Utah 83
INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 16 (Ticker) -- Austin Croshere provided the spark the Indiana Pacers needed.
Croshere scored eight of his 16 points in a decisive surge that started the fourth quarter and lifted the Pacers to a 93-83 victory over the Utah Jazz.
The star forward remained inactive despite his expressed desire to return to the team, five days after requesting a trade.
"We're all going to have to step it up a notch until we get somebody else in here, but nobody's role has changed," O'Neal said. "The offense is the same. The format is the same. We have a lot of offensive firepower and we just need to continue to be aggressive and play together. We'll be fine."
"It's all starting to come together," Pacers guard Stephen Jackson said. "Once everyone in the media stops asking us about Ron and worrying about this, then it will be better. We're not worried about where's he's going. We've got a job to do and we're worried about playing basketball with the 15 guys we've got."
The Pacers are trying to move on and Croshere helped them. After sitting out Wednesday's game due to a lower back bruise, the veteran forward matched a career high with four 3-pointers in his return.
"There's not any one guy on the team that's going to put that load on his shoulders alone," Croshere said. "Different guys on different nights will have to step up. Tonight, I was able to knock down some shots. Tomorrow, it might not be me. I can't have the attitude that it is going to be me, that I have to get the shots. We're going to have to do this as a team."
Croshere opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer. After a pair of jumpers by O'Neal, Croshere followed Anthony Johnson's 3-pointer with another shot from the arc for a 74-64 lead with 8 1/2 minutes to go.
Two free throws by Stephen Jackson gave the Pacers their largest lead at 85-71 with 5:26 remaining. The Jazz got no closer than eight points thereafter.
After a moribund first three quarters, the Pacers came alive in the final period with 32 points. They missed eight of their last nine shots of the third quarter but made seven of their first eight of the fourth period.
Jackson scored 16 points and rookie Sarunas Jasikevicius added 11 for Indiana, which made 9-of-22 3-pointers as it won for the third time in four games.
"I think some of us were trying to do too much early on," Croshere said. "We did a lot better in the second half in holding on to the basketball - driving, kicking, and just making the hustle plays that we didn't make in the first half. I hit a few open looks and that opened it up for Jermaine a little bit."
Mehmet Okur had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko added 11, nine rebounds, and 10 assists for the Jazz, who began a five-game road trip with their seventh straight loss to the Pacers.
"I need to take the ball to the basket more," Kirilenko said. "The first half, I think I was good, and even into the third quarter. After that, it's like I became a shadow."
Utah was much better than in its 84-60 home loss to Indiana on November 29. The Jazz reached that total late in the third quarter as rookie guard Deron Williams made three jumpers in a 9-0 spurt that provided a 60-55 advantage.
Williams scored 14 points and Jarron Collinsadded 13 and eight boards for Utah, which was 0-of-9 from the arc and 19-of-30 from the line.
"They just executed better down the stretch," Williams said. "They got the ball where they wanted to and got good shots. Shooting 19-of-30 from the line is not good. You have to get the points when the 'freebies' are right there."