Indiana 98, Chicago 91

INDIANAPOLIS, Jan. 22 (AP) -- Darrell Armstrong just got some extra incentive to ditch his retirement plans.

The 38-year-old point guard came to the Indiana Pacers in a trade last summer planning to play for one final season before pursuing a coaching career. But in his second start of the season, he had 16 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds to help the Pacers beat the Chicago Bulls 98-91 on Monday night.

"I've already been rethinking,'' he said. "I'm just going to sit back and wait and see how my body feels. I've always felt if I can continue to play the way I'm playing right now, I can still play another year.''

Chicago coach Scott Skiles was impressed with Armstrong's effort, which helped the Pacers snap a four-game losing streak.

"I thought he was the difference in the game,'' Skiles said. "Statistically he had a good night, but a couple of things he did off the ball and everything, he made the difference. In many respects, he was the best man on the floor.''

Armstrong helped the Pacers overcome a 31-point effort by Chicago's Ben Gordon. Armstrong played 34 minutes and nearly got the first triple-double of his career. He started because regular starter Jamaal Tinsley had a sore lower back.

"If this was a back-to-back, if we had a game tomorrow night, I'd be sitting out,'' Armstrong joked.

Jermaine O'Neal had 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the Pacers win for the first time since making an eight-player trade with Golden State last week.

Two of the newcomers acquired in the trade, Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy, made solid contributions. Dunleavy had 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Murphy had seven points and eight rebounds in his first start for Indiana.

Gordon said it was a good trade for the Pacers.

"I think they add some perimeter shooting, and it gives Jermaine more post-up opportunities,'' he said. "I think they're probably going to be a better club on the long run.''

Danny Granger scored 19 points and Marquis Daniels added 12 for the Pacers, who had lost three games during their losing streak by three points or less.

Luol Deng had 18 points and eight rebounds for Chicago, and Kirk Hinrich scored 14 points before fouling out late in the game.

The Pacers led by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, but a jumper by Gordon cut the lead to 83-79 with 6:37 left in the fourth.

O'Neal made two shots and two free throws to help Indiana take a 94-85 lead, but Gordon made a 3-pointer and was fouled by O'Neal with 1:14 left. Gordon missed the free throw, but got the rebound before missing an off-balance jumper.

Gordon had one more three-point play to cut Indiana's lead to 96-91, but that was as close as the Bulls got.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said the Pacers had no answers for Gordon.

"Ben Gordon is one of the great scorers in this league right now, in terms of being able to get on a roll, and we had to dodge some scud missiles to win the game because some of the shots he had were unbelievable,'' Carlisle said.

The Pacers went on an 11-0 run late in the first half on their way to a 60-43 halftime lead.

Indiana led 73-58 when Hinrich was called for fouling Orien Greene with 2:47 left in the third quarter. Hinrich also picked up a technical foul for arguing the call, but Granger missed the technical free throw, and Greene missed both free throws from the original foul call.

Chicago closed the third quarter on a 13-4 run, including 11 points by Gordon. Gordon hit a 29-foot shot as time expired in the quarter to cut Indiana's lead to 77-71.

"It was the first half,'' Gordon said. "We played a lot harder in the second half than the first. If we had the same effort at the start then the outcome would have been different.''

Armstrong saw to it that the Bulls didn't come back. He got a steal with 29 seconds left, made two free throws with 27 seconds left and got the final rebound of the game.

"It's amazing that he's 38,'' Dunleavy said. "He moves like a 20-year-old. We've been seeing him do it for years, but to be able to maintain that is very impressive.''

Notes: The Bulls have lost two in a row after winning three straight. ... Tinsley had been injury-prone in the recent past, but he had started all 40 games for the Pacers this season. ... Indiana C Jeff Foster lost his starting job to Murphy. He finished with four points and five rebounds in 13 minutes. ... The Pacers outrebounded the Bulls 47-36. ... Hinrich and Gordon both picked up technical fouls for the Bulls.

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