Artest, Bender Dominant as Pacers Blow Out Heat

by Conrad Brunner

March 31, 2002

STAR OF THE GAME

RON ARTEST
Flirting with the first quadruple-double in franchise history, Artest was a dominant force all over the floor, racking up 24 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and eight steals. His assist total was a career high and his steals tied a career high and were one short of the franchise record.
UNSUNG HERO

JONATHAN BENDER
Returning from his one-game suspension with a purpose, Bender had his best game in weeks with 19 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench. He scored 14 in the second period alone, when the Pacers blew open the game for good.
QUOTEBOOK

ISIAH THOMAS
"He (Ron Artest) had an awesome game, a great game, one for the record books in all areas. He had the chance to do something only three or four players in the history of the game have done. He was the real deal tonight."
STAT OF THE GAME
There have been just four quadruple-doubles in NBA history, the most recent by San Antonio's David Robinson in 1994 (34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 blocked shots). The others belong to Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon (1990), San Antonio's Alvin Robertson (1986), and Chicago's Nate Thurmond (1974).
HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points off turnovers: Pacers 20, Heat 17
Points in the paint: Pacers 40, Heat 40
Second-chance points: Pacers 14, Heat 7
Fast-break points: Heat 22, Pacers 8
Starters scoring: Pacers 56, Heat 47
Bench scoring: Pacers 44, Heat 34
100
81
March 31, 2002
Conseco Fieldhouse


By Conrad Brunner
END RESULT
For the third home game in a row, the Pacers sent their fans streaming to the exits early. This time, however, it was for the preferred reason - a rare blowout victory. With Ron Artest and Jonathan Bender shredding Miami's usually stout defense, the Pacers opened a comfortable margin in the first half and coasted home for a 100-81 victory on Sunday. Artest flirted with a rare quadruple double, racking up 24 points, nine rebounds, nine assists and eight steals, while Bender scored 19 points in 25 minutes off the bench.

WHAT IT MEANS
Threatening to lose their footing on a slippery downhill slope with three straight losses, the Pacers found firm ground with this victory, returning to .500 at 36-36 overall and effectively eliminating Miami from playoff contention. The Heat lost for the fifth time in six games and fell to 32-40 overall, four games behind the Pacers with just 10 remaining. Washington also fell 2½ games back with a loss to Dallas, though Toronto - which beat Philadelphia on Sunday for its fifth win in a row - is still lurking 1½ games back in ninth place at 35-38 with two games against the Pacers remaining.

UP NEXT
Boston goes for a season sweep of the Pacers on Tuesday night in Conseco Fieldhouse.

TURNING POINT
A team without a true small forward, Miami was unable to contend with either of the Pacers' young stars at the position. Bender was dominant right away in the second period, scoring nine points in a 13-2 run that opened a 35-21 lead. He and Artest combined for 22 of the Pacers' 33 points in the period as the lead at halftime was 55-34, and Miami would get no closer than 15 the rest of the night.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
The Pacers shot .472 overall and outrebounded Miami 50-34. Artest was spectacular with 24 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, eight steals and two blocked shots. Bender hit 5-of-7 from the field and 9-of-10 from the line. Reggie Miller scored 14 and Kevin Ollie came off the bench to score 13. Brad Miller pulled 11 rebounds and Brad Miller 10 as the Pacers' front line was overpowering. Miami got 15 points from Eddie Jones, who was 5-of-13 from the field, and 10 from Rod Strickland. Alonzo Mourning was running in mud all afternoon and produced eight points, six rebounds and four blocked shots. Miami shot .419 and had as many assists as turnovers (15).

STRATEGY/PERSONNEL
Though the Pacers were without Jermaine O'Neal, Foster and Brad Miller proved more than enough to overpower Miami's combination of Mourning and Brian Grant, who combined for just eight rebounds. The Pacers were able to consistently get inside the Miami defense and draw fouls in the second period, going 19 of 20 from the line in the period while Jones (four) and Mourning (three) both finished the half in foul trouble. Miami was able to get some offense generated in the third period but couldn't come up with enough stops to forge a run and cut into the margin. Up 19 to start the fourth, the Pacers promptly scored the first six points to eliminate all thoughts of a late comeback, and the benches cleared - not for a brawl, but for rare opportunities at extended playing time for reserves Primoz Brezec and Bruno Sundov.

NOTEWORTHY
This was the Pacers' 1,000th victory in the NBA. ... The Pacers will be back at full strength for Tuesday night's game against Boston as O'Neal will return from his two-game suspension. ... Ron Mercer sat out the game with a sore back. ... Jamaal Tinsley was limited to 16 minutes by an upper respiratory infection. ... This was the Pacers' largest victory margin of the season. ... Miami has allowed at least 100 points just twice in its last 29 games, both times to the Pacers.