INDIANAPOLIS, March 28 (Ticker) --
The Inidana Pacers welcomed back
All-Star Jermaine O'Neal
, then said good-bye to the Miami Heat's
seven-game winning streak.
NBA TV highlights from|
O'Neal collected 23 points and 14 rebounds to help the Pacers
win their fourth straight game, 87-80 over the torrid Heat.
The 6-11 forward missed the last two contests with a bruised
"I give a lot of credit to Jermaine O'Neal for stepping in there
and playing today," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle
knee is still a little sore and it's tough to come in there
after missing a couple of gmaes."
Indiana (54-19) reduced its magic number to clinch the best
record in the Eastern Conference to one with nine games to play.
"They are the most defensive team in the league and they never
foul," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy
said. "I like thier toughness
as a team. Rick does a hell of a job."
hit his only basket, a 3-pointer, with 3:30 to
play, giving the Pacers an 83-74 lead that sealed the game.
Behind two 3-pointers from Anthony Johnson
, the Pacers went on a
10-1 run early in the second quarter to take a 39-23 lead. They
led, 50-40, at halftime.
The Heat stormed back in the third quarter, opening it with an
11-4 spurt and eventually tying the game on a jumper by Dwyane Wade
with 1:15 to play.
scored 18 points, shooting 3-of-16 from the field and
12-of-17 from the free-throw line. The All-Star forward also
had 12 rebounds and six steals for the Pacers.
"I didn't shoot the ball well tonight, I was trying to do too
much by myself," Artest said. "We must continue to tighten the
defense and move the ball around a little bit more to each
Two of Artest's steals came late in the fourth quarter. He has
34 steals in his last 10 games.
"It's kind of becoming common place for him to make huge
defensive plays," Carlisle said. "He's been doing that all
year. Making the big play, getting the big steal, getting the
, Eddie Jones
and Wade had 14 points apiece for the
Heat (35-38), who remained one game behind Milwaukee for fifth
place in the Eastern Conference.
Miami has lost nine straight to the Pacers.
"They are a tough team, but we feel like we can play with them,"
Jones said. "We couldn't quite get over the hump. I think you
have to give credit to their defense."