O'Neal, Tinsley Team Up, Lead Pacers to First Victory

by Conrad Brunner

October 31, 2001

In the first six quarters of the season, O'Neal had more fouls (eight) than field goals (five). But he broke out of that funk in a big way in the second half, scoring 20 of his 25 points to give the Pacers a much-needed spark. O'Neal added 10 rebounds and three blocked shots.
The rookie point guard took firm command of the team in his second career start and produced a thoroughly productive game with 12 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and five steals.
"I thought about it at halftime, that I can't help my team on the bench. I've got to find a way to play through (foul trouble) and I found a way to do that in the second half."
The Pacers outscored the Bulls 33-9 in the final 13 minutes of the game after leading by no more than eight in the first three periods.
Points off turnovers: Pacers 14, Bulls 6
Points in the paint: Pacers 30, Bulls 20
Second-chance points: Pacers 15, Bulls 10
Fast-break points: Pacers 15, Bulls 3
Starters scoring: Pacers 71, Bulls 57
Bench scoring: Pacers 27, Bulls 16
Oct. 31, 2001
United Center
Getting breakthrough games from Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley, the Pacers took control of the game in the fourth quarter to blow out Chicago 98-73 in the Bulls' home opener on Wednesday night in the United Center.

The Pacers improved to 1-1 and won for the first time in their last six Halloween games, while Chicago dropped to 0-1. This was the Pacers' sixth consecutive victory over the Bulls, and 11th in 12 meetings since Michael Jordan retired.

The Pacers return for their home opener on Friday night against Orlando in Conseco Fieldhouse. It is the first of six consecutive games against 2001 playoff teams for the Pacers.

Riding strong performances from Ron Mercer and Brad Miller, the Bulls wouldn't go away and trailed just 65-64 late in the third period. But O'Neal heated up quickly, scoring 12 points and blocking three shots to spark a 17-2 run that built an 82-66 lead midway through the fourth period and there would be no late rally by the home team, which wound up totaling just nine points on four-of-24 shooting in the fourth quarter.

The Pacers didn't shoot particularly well (.429) but hit the offensive boards hard to come up with extra shot opportunities, winning the board battle 51-42. They also committed just 10 turnovers, 12 fewer than the night before in a loss at New Jersey. O'Neal led the way with 25 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Jalen Rose had all 19 of his points in the first three quarters. Austin Croshere came off the bench to score 14. Tinsley had 12 points, 13 assists, six rebounds and five steals, and Reggie Miller added 11 points and seven rebounds. Jeff Foster finished with nine rebounds. The Bulls shot just .354 overall but were 12 of 44 (.273) in the second half, when they managed just 29 points. Miller scored 10 of his 24 points from the free-throw line and contributed nine rebounds. Mercer had 22 points, five assists and five rebounds. Charles Oakley had a game-high 12 rebounds.

Pacers coach Isiah Thomas stuck with the same basic pattern as in the opener, starting Tinsley, Miller, Rose, O'Neal and Foster and using a four-man second-unit rotation of Al Harrington, Travis Best, Croshere and Jonathan Bender. Bruno Sundov got his first playing time of the season after Harrington fouled out.

The Pacers reached agreement with Al Harrington on a contract extension reportedly for four years and $24 million just before the Oct. 31 deadline. Had a deal not been struck, the fourth-year forward would have become a restricted free agent after the season. ... Two players will come home to deal with bad news. Bender's house was burglarized and a guest was assaulted, and O'Neal had two vehicles vandalized while the team was on the road. ... Chicago rookies Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler both scored their first career points, but not much more. ... The game got a little physical in the first half, as Thomas drew a technical protesting a hard foul by Brad Miller from behind on O'Neal in the first quarter, while Harrington and Marcus Fizer each drew technicals for a second-quarter exchange that started when the Bulls forward threw an elbow after the whistle. ... Rose scored 15 in the first half, giving him 58 points in the season's first six periods. ... The Bulls missed all seven of their 3-point attempts.