by Conrad Brunner
Oct. 9, 2005
Was it a moral victory or a sister kissed?
The annual FanJam scrimmage was neither and both while serving its primary purpose: giving roughly 8,000 fans given free admission to Conseco Fieldhouse their first look at the team Sunday afternoon.
Jamaal Tinsley's three free throws with 3.2 seconds left – courtesy a poorly considered foul by rookie free agent Jimmie "Snap" Hunter – forced a 33-all tie. After Fred Jones missed an open, long, 3-pointer at the buzzer, the 20-minute scrimmage ended in a draw.
"It was a great opportunity for the fans to see our team, and it was a tight, competitive game," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "This was an energetic a crowd as we've had at FanJam as far back as I can remember."
For many in attendance, it was the first chance ever to see the team's two key offseason additions – New Mexico forward Danny Granger and Lithuanian guard Sarunas Jasikevicius – play in person. Granger didn't disappoint, scoring 10 points to lead the White team, comprised of reserves. Jasikevicius started but did not score for the White.
Ron Artest, playing his first public game of any kind in Conseco Fieldhouse in nearly 11 months, showed plenty of rust. He missed his first five shots and finished with five points on 2-of-8 shooting for the Blue. Jermaine O'Neal (right thigh contusion), David Harrison (side pain) and Jeff Foster (recovering from hip surgery) did not play.
Carlisle put little stock in the individual performances, good or bad.
"This game's not a great indicator of reality," he said.
Stephen Jackson led the Blue with 12 points, while Tinsley had five assists. Following Granger for the White were Jones and Austin Croshere with six apiece.
The starters withstood two strong rallies from the reserves. After taking an 18-8 lead behind seven quick points from Jonathan Bender in the first of the two 10-minute halves, the Blue watched Jones hit a pair of 3-pointers to key an eight-point comeback by the White.
The Blue led 27-24 after Artest's first basket, but the White scored eight uncontested points, including a pair of drives by Desmon Farmer and a dunk by Granger, to take a 32-27 lead. Artest then hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to two, setting up the close finish.
Farmer, fouled intentionally by Tinsley, made the strategy look good when he missed the first of two free throws, leaving the White with a 3-point lead. Hunter then bit on a ball-fake and jumped into Tinsley beyond the 3-point line, committing the foul that allowed the starters to escape with the tie.