O'Neal Injures Knee as Pacers Fall Short

by Conrad Brunner

January 15, 2002

STAR OF THE GAME
JALEN ROSE
Taking the dominant role in the offense after Jermaine O'Neal went down with a knee injury in the second period and Reggie Miller was ejected early in the fourth, Rose scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half, 12 in the fourth quarter, to bring the Pacers almost all the way back. Then, with a chance to tie the game, he stepped to the line with 3.2 seconds left and missed the first of two free throws as the comeback ended just short of its goal.
UNSUNG HERO
JONATHAN BENDER
Though he didn't shoot well, going 2-of-9 from the field, Bender helped fuel the comeback with his aggressive rebounding (eight in 21 minutes) and consistent penetration to draw fouls. Bender scored nine of his 14 points at the free throw line. He scored 11 points and pulled five rebounds in the fourth quarter alone. "I thought Jonathan came in and gave us a big lift rebounding the basketball," said coach Isiah Thomas. "We just had a very difficult time throughout most of the game rebounding the basketball. I thought he came in and started rebounding for us and we got a little bit more energy and were able to scratch our way into the game. We competed a little harder."
QUOTEBOOK

ISIAH THOMAS
"I wish we could play Milwaukee and L.A. once a week because you learn so much playing against the better teams. You look back at this game and you think you had a chance to win it at the end of the game but, like I told the team, we lost the game on a loose ball in the first quarter. It's not the big things that happen at the end that lose games, it's the little things that happen throughout the course of the game that make the difference. But young guys live for the end of the game. That's part of the growth process."
STAT OF THE GAME
The Pacers rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to within two points in the final seconds despite missing 16 of 24 shots in the fourth period.
HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points off turnovers: Pacers 13, Bucks 13
Points in the paint: Pacers 40, Bucks 28
Second-chance points: Bucks 25, Pacers 24
Fast-break points: Pacers 11, Bucks 11
Starters scoring: Bucks 85, Pacers 78
Bench scoring: Pacers 24, Bucks 21
102
106
January 15, 2002
Conseco Fieldhouse


By Conrad Brunner
END RESULT
Playing uninspired basketball most of the night, the Pacers finally found life in adversity and rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to just two with a chance to tie, but Jalen Rose - who was otherwise brilliant in leading the Pacers back from the brink - missed a critical free throw with 3.2 seconds remaining and Milwaukee escaped with a 106-102 victory on Tuesday night.

WHAT IT MEANS
Losing for the third time in four games overall, as well as the third time in the last four home games, the Pacers fell to 21-18 overall, 12-7 in Conseco Fieldhouse. They also dropped three games behind the first-place Bucks - five in the loss column, as well as falling behind Toronto into third place in the Central Division. The Bucks won their fourth straight to improve to 22-13.

UP NEXT
The rematch with the Bucks in the Bradley Center on Wednesday night now takes on even more importance for the Pacers, who need to win to avoid dropping the season series - and losing a potentially critical tie-breaker. The Pacers have lost the last three games in Milwaukee, including a 115-95 decision on Dec. 15.

TURNING POINT
There were more swings in this game than an elementary school playground, but the most pivotal didn't come at the end, it came relatively early. The Pacers got off to a strong start, building a quick 20-9 lead and humming along at 36-27 early in the second. But the bottom quickly dropped out as the Bucks strung together a 32-8 run to go into the half with a 59-44 lead. In the process, the Pacers lost Jermaine O'Neal to a sprained knee for the rest of the game. They were 3-of-15 from the field during that run, missing their final seven shots of the quarter. They were still close when O'Neal went down, trailing 47-42, but the Bucks had already seized momentum and simply carried it with them the rest of the half. Ultimately, it was the second-quarter collapse that dug a hole too deep for recovery.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
Jalen Rose led the Pacers in scoring with 26 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including four 3-pointers. Reggie Miller contributed 24 before being ejected early in the fourth quarter. Jonathan Bender had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench, and Jamaal Tinsley had 11 points, 12 assists and six rebounds. Jeff Foster had 10 points and 13 rebounds, seven offensive. Milwaukee was led by Tim Thomas, who scored 25, and guards Ray Allen and Sam Cassell, who scored 23 apiece. Michael Redd came off the bench to score 15, and Anthony Mason contributed 14 points and eight rebounds.

STRATEGY/PERSONNEL
With O'Neal out, Thomas gave Primoz Brezec extended minutes and he acquited himself adequately with six points and two rebounds in 18 minutes, though he did pick up four fouls. The second unit's collective slump took on critical proportions in the second period when the team went completely flat. Thomas later said the second unit ''was terrible'' and said he would consider altering the makeup of the group to reflect a more defensive mindset. Austin Croshere was ineffective in seven minutes, going scoreless for the third time in four games and fifth time in eight. Travis Best was likewise silent, and the usually reliable Al Harrington couldn't get untracked defensively, picking up five fouls in 12 minutes and winding up with just two points. On a night when O'Neal was lost in the second quarter and Miller was ejected in the fourth, the Pacers desperately needed strong bench contributions, but only Bender came through.

NOTEWORTHY
  • O'Neal was injured when Jamaal Tinsley, taking a charge on a Tim Thomas drive with 4:47 left in the first half, was knocked to the floor and rolled into O'Neal's legs. The initial diagnosis was a sprained left knee, though O'Neal will be examined further on Wednesday. He will not accompany the team to Milwaukee for the rematch. ...
  • Miller picked up his first technical foul with 10:02 remaining. Apparently upset no foul was called on his jump-shot attempt on the previous possession, Miller threw Ray Allen to the floor. After being hit with the technical and a personal foul and removed from the game by Thomas, Miller continued to protest from the bench, picking up a second technical and mandatory ejection with 9:57 remaining. ...
  • Former Pacers forward Derrick McKey signed with the Philadelphia 76ers, a contract that will pay him the pro-rated portion of the $1 million minimum for players with 10 years of experience ($561,000). The Pacers are still obligated for the balance of his $6 million salary this season. "I think it's great that he's back in the league, gets a chance to play basketball and make some more money," said coach Isiah Thomas. "It's good to see one of the good guys reap the benefits." ...
  • Bucks guard Ray Allen hinted that chronic tendinitis in his left knee might cause him to pull out of the 2002 World Basketball Championship in Indianapolis. "Obviously, I don't want to play basketball at the point if my leg feels like it does now," he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "It's not going to help me or that team to be out there running around like a limping dog." Milwaukee's George Karl is head coach of the U.S. team, which includes Pacers Jermaine O'Neal and Reggie Miller. ...
  • O'Neal remained second among Eastern Conference centers in the latest update of fan balloting for the All-Star Game. With 351,773 votes, O'Neal trails Philadelphia's Dikembe Mutombo (544,403) but holds a healthy lead over third-place Alonzo Mourning of Miami (234,430). Among all NBA centers, only Mutombo and the Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal have more votes. Miller ranks ninth among East guards with 76,961 votes.