O'Neal Steps Forward as Pacers Rout Raptors

by Conrad Brunner

April 10, 2002


This is what's known as walking the walk: 29 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists. The dominant force on the floor for most of his 40 minutes, O'Neal rose to the occasion at a critical time.

He not only played under control, he controlled the play, running the offense efficiently and productively while keeping pressure on Toronto counterpart Alvin Williams, who was in foul trouble throughout the game and was never a factor. Tinsley produced 14 points and nine assists and made a big 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to put the Pacers up 76-63.

"I thought Jermaine O'Neal really came out and set the tone, not only for the first five minutes but for the whole game. I thought he was really, really spectacular tonight."
After scoring 37 points in the first quarter, the Pacers set an NBA franchise record by managing just eight points in the second period. It also tied the team NBA record for fewest points in any quarter.
Points off turnovers: Pacers 18, Raptors 15
Points in the paint: Pacers 42, Raptors 38
Second-chance points: Pacers 18, Raptors 8
Fast-break points: Raptors 15, Pacers 9
Starters scoring: Pacers 88, Raptors 64
Bench scoring: Raptors 18, Pacers 10
April 10, 2002
Conseco Fieldhouse

By Conrad Brunner
Surviving to play their next do-or-die game, the Pacers ended Toronto's nine-game winning streak with an authoritative 98-82 victory on Wednesday night in Conseco Fieldhouse.

The Pacers snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 38-40, one game behind both Toronto and free-falling Milwaukee, which lost its fourth in a row to drop to 39-39. Both the Raptors and Bucks hold the season-series tiebreaker over the Pacers. If the three teams tie for seventh and eighth places, the Pacers would lose that tiebreaker as well, because their combined record against Raptors and Bucks is 1-6. Milwaukee is 6-0 and Toronto is 3-4.

Another win-or-else game awaits, this time on Friday night against the Bucks, who were in first place in the Central Division a little more than a month ago but have dropped 14 of 18 games and now are in danger of falling out of the playoffs entirely.

Rarely is a game won in the first period, but such was the case this time. The Pacers played a perfect 12 minutes, outscoring the Raptors 37-16, outrebounding them 12-5, committing no turnovers while assisting on nine of their 13 field goals, shooting .619 from the field and getting the Raptors' two most important players, Antonio Davis and Alvin Williams, into early foul trouble. That 21-point cushion was almost wiped out in the second period as the Raptors finished the first half with a 24-6 run, but the energy expended in that prolonged comeback sapped the Raptors, who fell behind by 16 in the third period after a 9-2 spurt by the Pacers in the third period and did not challenge again.

The Pacers had to protect the ball and the backboard, and they did, committing a modest 15 turnovers and outrebounding Toronto 41-32. O'Neal (29 points, 15 rebounds) was a dominant force, but he was given strong support by Brad Miller, who had 23 points and 11 rebounds and made 9-of-12 shots. Reggie Miller scored 15, and Tinsley had 14 points, nine assists and three steals. Toronto was led by Antonio Davis' 24 points and nine rebounds. Morris Peterson scored 22, and Keon Clark came off the bench to score 11 point sand block three shots.

The tight, stretch-run rotations continued, although Austin Croshere did receive his first playing time in four games - four minutes in the second period. Four of the five starters played at lest 35 minutes and the other, Ron Artest, was plagued by recurring heel pain that limited his playing time to 28 minutes. Jonathan Bender played 29 minutes off the bench but produced just two points on 1-of-5 shooting. When Thomas went to the bench in the second period, the Raptors made their big run, but he showed confidence by bringing the same players back for normal rotations in the second half. The odd men out in the eight-man rotation are Croshere and Ron Mercer, who played just two minutes.

The Raptors were handcuffed by the absence of Chris Childs, who was not with the team after suffering a strained right heel in the third quarter of a victory in Charlotte on Tuesday night. Without his veteran backup point guard, Raptors coach Lenny Wilkens was forced to employ little-used Jermaine Jackson, who was overmatched. ... Artest returned the lineup after missing one game with a sore heel, but left the game briefly after aggravating the injury in the third period, but did return. ... Artest also picked up a technical foul with 13.8 seconds left in the half for slamming the scorer's table repeatedly, then throwing an official's water bottle. ... The Pacers' eight-point second quarter set a Raptors opponent record. ... Tinsley also left the game briefly after taking an inadvertent elbow to the throat from Clark in the third period. Trying to dive under a screen, Tinsley ran into Clark's arm and crumpled to the floor, where he lay prone for several seconds. But he returned with 20 seconds left in the period and went on to play the rest of the game. ... O'Neal finished the game limping, the result of tweaking his right ankle in the final minute. ... This was the Pacers' first victory over a team with a winning record since March 15 against Minnesota. ... Davis scored at least 20 points for a career-high fifth game in a row. In that span he has averaged 23.8. ... The Raptors lost to the Pacers for the first time in Isiah Thomas' tenure as head coach, winning the first seven meetings.