Pacers Beat Sonics With Subs
Indiana 115, Seattle 96
INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 2 (Ticker) -- A dramatically different starting lineup produced a dramatically different result for the Indiana Pacers.
With Jermaine O'Neal joining Jamaal Tinsley on the sidelines, the Pacers responded with their best offensive performance of the season in a 115-96 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics that snapped a four-game losing streak.
"The game speeds up without Jermaine in there, so we have to move and share the ball more and get everyone involved," Jackson said. "This team is deep and a lot of these guys look forward to getting the chance to show what they can do."
Tinsley, Indiana's starting point guard, already was out with a sore right elbow. In addition, mercurial forward Ron Artest - who has requested a trade - sat out his 11th straight contest.
Rookie Danny Granger started for O'Neal and veteran Anthony Johnson filled in for Tinsley. Meanwhile, second-year center David Harrison made his first start of the season for Jeff Foster, who came off the bench.
All three unfamiliar starters cracked double figures. Johnson had 14 points and six assists, Harrison scored 11 points and Granger added 10 and seven rebounds.
"Just like last year, because of injuries and off-the-court stuff, you never know what kind of opportunities you'll get when you show up to the arena," Johnson said. "It was good for us to step up and play well. Freddy had a big game."
Coming off an embarrassing home loss to Toronto, Indiana took advantage of Seattle, the league's worst defensive team. The Pacers established season highs in points and shooting percentage (22-of-35, 63 percent) as they raced to a 63-47 halftime bulge.
"We didn't have an answer for Fred Jones," Sonics coach Bob Weiss said. "When we were trying to get back in the game, we lacked execution and sometimes settled for 1-on-1 plays. Even though we shot 44 percent, they just kept coming at us. We tried to clog the middle, we tried to pick up the pace, and nethier seemed to work. Overall, as a team, we need to maximize our effort and play with more energy."
Leading the way were Jackson, who slid from small forward to shooting guard, and Jones, who posted a season high for the second straight game.
Jackson made three 3-pointers and scored 13 points in the first quarter, when Indiana made seven shots from the arc and bolted to a 38-23 lead.
"Well, we knew they were 0-6 when they lose the first quarter," Jackson said. "We wanted to come out hot and try to kill their confidence a little bit."
Jones made sure the Pacers kept their double-digit lead, sinking 6-of-7 shots for 15 points in the first half and closing the third quarter with a 3-pointer for an 89-71 advantage.
"He's picked up his game in one major area - he brings energy," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "He brings energy. We just want him to play with energy. As long as he plays with this kind of energy and force, he'll get minutes and make things happen."
Rookie Sarunas Jasikevicius ended a slump by scoring 12 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter for the Pacers, who set a season high in points as they reached triple digits for just the second time in their last 10 games. Indiana shot 52 percent (37-of-71), including 11-of-26 from the arc.
"Sarunas played well off the bench," Johnson said. "Guys shared the ball. We had 21 assists and we shot 52 percent as a team. Those are some pretty good numbers."
Jones made 10-of-16 shots and appears to be replicating a role he filled last season. When Indiana's roster was decimated by suspensions and injuries, Jones stepped into the starting lineup and averaged 16.3 points in 14 games.
"I knew that I had to put a lot more on my shoulders tonight," Jones said. "I've gotten a lot more confident in my game and I've been trying to take advantage of it."
Ray Allen scored 24 points, Ronald Murray added 18 off the bench and Reggie Evans had 16 and 12 rebounds for Seattle, which began a five-game road trip.
"We gave up too many easy points in the first quarter," Allen said. "When we covered their penetration, their shots went in, and when we covered the shooters, they penetrated. We have so many breakdowns defensively. We have to do a better job recovering and helping out to cover for other people's mistakes."