INDIANAPOLIS, Feb. 8 (Ticker) --
When All-Star Jermaine O'Neal
foul trouble, the Indiana Pacers' bench picked up the slack.
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hit a pair of 3-pointers - his only points of
the game - in a 15-0 run that bridged the third and fourth
quarters as the Pacers held on for a 97-91 victory over the
O'Neal, selected to start his second straight All-Star Game,
recorded his Eastern Conference-leading 31st double-double of
the season with 22 points and 13 rebounds. But the game turned
after the Pacers' leading scorer picked up his fourth foul with
4:47 left in the third quarter.
Playing without third-leading scorer Al Harrington
, who was
sidelined with a bruised right knee, the Pacers improved the
NBA's best record to 38-14.
"We got great help from the bench tonight, particularly Scot Pollard
," O'Neal said. "Everybody played a big role tonight."
The seldom-used Pollard contributed six points and a season-high
nine rebounds, while Anthony Johnson
chipped in with 13 points.
"They are finally getting some of the things out of me that they
traded for," said Pollard, who was acquired from the Sacramento
Miami took its biggest lead at 64-62 on two free throws by
rookie Dwyane Wade
with 2:58 left in the third period. Indiana
responded by holding the Heat scoreless over the next six
minutes and opened a 77-64 cushion on Fred Jones'
scored 25 points and Eddie Jones
added 21 for Miami,
which lost its fourth straight game.
"They are a deep team and they are a talented team," Jones said.
"Even without Al Harrington today they still had a lot of depth
to throw at us."
Miami closed to 83-81 on Odom's free throw with 3:17 left. But
All-Star Ron Artest
, who scored 20 points, and O'Neal hit
jumpers to make it 87-81 with two minutes to go.
contributed 15 points for the Pacers, all of
3-pointers. His final 3-pointer put away the contest, giving
Indiana a 90-82 edge with 1:20 left.
"Anthony Johnson, Fred Jones, Scott Pollard, Austin Croshere
gave us a big lift," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "Jermaine
O'Neal played huge for us. I think one of the major reasons
we're at where we are is the presence of Jermaine. He has
brought this team to a higher level."
The Heat shot 50 percent (33-of-66) while holding Indiana to 40
percent (32-of-80), but the Pacers dominated the boards, 46-30.