By Bobby Ciatti | Minneapolis, July 17, 2005
Ron Artest continued to shine in his return to competitive basketball in the Minnesota Summer League game against the New York Knicks. Artest scored a game-high 25 points, while leading the Indiana Pacers to an 87-75 victory over the Knicks Sunday in Target Center.
Indiana started strong in the first quarter, going on a 13-5 run to open the game. Center David Harrison regrouped after being whistled for a questionable technical foul only 17 seconds into the game to throw down a thunderous two-handed slam dunk that nearly brought down the hoop. Harrison used his strength in the paint to score 19 points.
"David Harrison played hard and played well and so did Ron Artest again," said assistant coach Dan Burke. "Ron played a good all-around game within the framework of the team."
Pacers Guard Jimmie Hunter had the hot shooting hand in the second half for the Pacers, finishing with 13 points in 30 minutes. Guard Maurice Carter was impressive once again scoring 14 points. Forward Charles Gaines contributed 13 points and 13 rebounds.
"Gaines was a monster and so was 'Snap' Hunter," Said Burke. "Carter is a good player, who knows how to play. He's impressive and he's a solid team guy."
Burke said the staff has been impressed by the overall level of both performance and effort from the free agents trying to break into the NBA.
"They play hard and they're tough," he said. "That's what shows up in the rest of the team. If you want minutes, you've got to play tough, you've got to play physical and we've got good guys who are doing that. Guys like Snap and Mo Carter are out there making hustle plays and taking charges. And if you'll take a charge in a summer-league game, that says something about you.
"A lot of them have shown they belong in a camp. They play hard and they're good practice players. Some of them may be on the bubble, skill-wise, but they're young enough that they might be worth a long look."
The Knicks failed to build on their blowout win over the Timberwolves Saturday night. Guard Nate Robinson led the Knicks with 23 points, but fellow first round draft picks Forward David Lee and Center Channing Frye struggled all game. Lee, who was impressive inside against the Timberwolves, had trouble being matched up against Artest, and managed only six points, while picking up five fouls.
The Pacers improved to 2-1 in summer league competition and are back at it again Monday against top overall draft pick Andrew Bogut and the Milwaukee Bucks. Milwaukee has struggled so far in summer league play, on their way to a 0-2 record.
Bobby Ciatti is a special correspondent for Pacers.com. Conrad Brunner contributed to this report.