Indiana 102, Milwaukee 100

MILWAUKEE, Nov. 18 (AP) -- Trailing by 15 points at halftime, the Indiana Pacers knew they had to play better defense to beat the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jermaine O'Neal made it happen.

O'Neal had 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots, and the Pacers rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat the Bucks 102-100 on Saturday night.

"He was the star of the game, without question,'' Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was a dominant performance. The eight blocks were the difference in the game.''

Indiana, which snapped a three-game losing streak, played without leading scorer Al Harrington, who is day-to-day with a back injury sustained Friday night at New Jersey.

With Harrington out, O'Neal picked up his game, especially on defense.

"There were a lot of periods where the game could have tipped one way or the other,'' Carlisle said. "Two or three of his blocked shots tipped it back in our favor, and that was the difference.''

O'Neal had all of his eight blocks in the first three quarters. Milwaukee appeared to avoid challenging him in the final quarter.

"He's really been a man-child,'' Milwaukee's Mo Williams said. "You can really tell that (blocking shots) is one of his focuses this year. Somebody told him he needs to block some shots and he's really down there being a man in the middle.''

Despite blowing a big lead, Milwaukee had a chance to win in the final seconds. With 4.1 seconds left, the Bucks ran a play that inbounded to Ersan Ilyasova instead of Michael Redd, who came into the game averaging an NBA-leading 31.3 points.

"It was a great call because our defense was really targeted to Redd,'' O'Neal said.

Ilyasova, making his first NBA start, declined to take what appeared to be an open shot. Instead, he passed to Andrew Bogut at the top of the key, but he failed to get a shot off before the game ended.

"I really can't (fault) Ersan,'' Redd said. "He's young. His head was trying to figure out how much time he had left, who was guarding him.

"It was a frustrating situation,'' he said. "I think I was just more of a decoy.''

Redd scored 21 points for Milwaukee, which has lost six of seven.

Jeff Foster's layup gave Indiana a 101-96 lead with 36 seconds left. Williams, who had 19 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds, then hit four consecutive free throws to pull the Bucks within 101-100.

Darrell Armstrong hit one of two free throws with 2.9 seconds left to give the Pacers a 102-100 lead.

Stephen Jackson scored 17 points and Jamaal Tinsley added 15 for the Pacers.

The Pacers scored eight consecutive points in the closing minutes to take the lead for good.

The teams traded baskets for more than 5 minutes in the fourth quarter until Tinsley scored on a short jumper to give Indiana the lead for good, 91-90, with 3:38 left.

Charlie Bell then missed a jumper for Milwaukee and O'Neal scored from the baseline to give the Pacers a three-point lead.

Redd missed a baseline jumper for the Bucks and Danny Granger hit an open 3-pointer from the baseline for a 96-90 lead with 2:28 left.

Milwaukee never trailed in the first three quarters, but the Pacers took their first lead, 72-71, on Sarunas Jasikevicius' 3-pointer with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter.

There were 11 lead changes and four ties in the final period.

The Pacers' defense keyed a 24-11 run in the third quarter. O'Neal had three blocks and Milwaukee shot only 36 percent in the quarter as the Bucks' 15-point halftime lead was cut to 71-67 after three quarters.

"We were able to get some stops on the defensive end, and it really triggered out offense,'' O'Neal said. ``We came into (the locker room at the half) and said, 'You know what? We're a much better team than this."

Williams scored 11 points as the Bucks led 50-35 at halftime. The Bucks opened their biggest lead at 49-32 on Bell's 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the second quarter.

Indiana missed 16 of its first 20 shots, enabling the Bucks to lead 27-15 after one quarter.

Notes: O'Neal's career high for blocks is 10, which he accomplished Jan. 22, 2003, against Toronto. ... Ilyasova, 19, scored 12 points in his first NBA start. ... Indiana's Jeff Foster and Marquis Daniels each started for the first time this season. Foster started for Harrington and Daniels started for Jackson. ... The Bucks had a short pregame ceremony to honor Redd for scoring 57 points, a franchise record, on Nov. 11 against Utah.

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