JERMAINE O'NEAL
Scored 25 points with nine rebounds in 39 minutes.
RICK CARLISLE
"We did a lot of great things out there and then Houston made plays in the fourth quarter. They got it done and we struggled. When you come up empty, you come up empty. We played a real gutsy game but we weren't good enough."
Points in the Paint:
Pacers 28, Rockets 24
Fast-break points:
Pacers 2, Rockets 2
2nd-chance points:
Rockets 8, Pacers 6
Points off turnovers:
Pacers 14, Rockets 11
Starters scoring:
Rockets 68, Pacers 63
Bench scoring:
Rockets 18, Pacers 13
Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley combined for 47 points on 20-of-43 shooting (46.5 percent); the other seven Pacers that played combined to produce 39 points on 12-of-41 shooting (29.3 percent).
The Pacers play their final road game against a Western Conference team Wednesday night in San Antonio against Tim Duncan and the Spurs (8 p.m., FSN-Indiana).
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  • HOUSTON 86, INDIANA 76
    Rockets Take Over In Fourth Quarter

    At Houston | March 20, 2007


    Defense gave the Pacers an opportunity to beat Houston. Offense kept it from happening.

    Though Indiana held the Rockets without a field goal for 6½ minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters, the Pacers couldn't put together enough offense for a much-needed run. When Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming snapped Houston out of its funk, the home team responded with a 14-3 burst that led to an 86-76 victory for the Rockets Tuesday in Toyota Center.

    Both teams got good games from their star players but little else. The Pacers got 25 points from Jermaine O'Neal and 22 from Jamaal Tinsley, while the Rockets got 32 from Yao and a near triple-double from McGrady (20 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds), but no other player for either team scored more than seven.

    Indiana (30-36) lost its eighth straight on the road and 12th in 13 games overall to slip into ninth in the Eastern Conference. Houston (43-25) won its fourth in a row and seventh in eight games.


    PLUSES

    O'Neal and Tinsley both were effective throughout, though O'Neal needed 24 shots (making nine) to score his 25 points. He added nine rebounds. Tinsley was 11-of-19 from the field and had six assists and two steals but committed five turnovers. The Pacers held the Rockets to 39.2 percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers but struggled to capitalize, managing just two fast-break points.
    MINUSES
    For most of the night, the strategy of guarding Yao straight-up with either O'Neal or Foster worked because it denied Houston the open 3-pointers that had fueled an offense averaging 107.9 points in the previous seven games. But Yao broke loose in the fourth quarter and finished 10-of-17 from the field and 12-of-13 from the free-throw line, adding 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, though he committed six turnovers. McGrady had a poor shooting night (7-of-21) but did everything else well. The Rockets controlled the boards 53-41 and had 23 assists.
    MOMENTS
    Neither team could put much in the way of distance on the other for most of the game as the Rockets led by two at the end of each of the first three quarters (18-16, 39-37 and 61-59).

    Indiana's big opportunity came after the Rockets took a 61-58 lead late in the third on a McGrady drive. The home team wouldn't make a basket until 7:33 remained in the fourth quarter, missing 11 shots in a row, but the Pacers also went cold, missing their final seven shots of the third period and making just four in the early minutes of the fourth. As a result, the game was tied 67-all when McGrady broke the drought with a 3-pointer.

    Yao then scored twice inside and the Rocket were well on their way to the decisive run as the Pacers got no closer than seven in the final three minutes.


    TIDBITS
  • Jeff Foster, who missed the previous two games with lower back spasms, returned and moved into the starting lineup, playing 20 minutes and producing four points and seven rebounds.
  • The Pacers were without sixth man Marquis Daniels for the ninth consecutive game and 16th in the last 22.
  • O'Neal went down hard late in the fourth quarter and appeared to tweak a left knee injury that has plagued him in recent weeks but remained in the game.
  • The Pacers, who play in San Antonio Wednesday night, dropped to 10-8 on the first night of back-to-back games. They're 5-12 on the second night.
  • The Rockets improved to 22-6 against Eastern Conference teams, 11-2 at home. They're 7-2 since Yao returned after missing 32 games with a fractured right leg and 21-7 with Yao and McGrady together in the lineup.