Pacers, Nets go to Game 5

Posted: Wednesday, May 01, 2002

INDIANAPOLIS -- Instead of riding the bench, Austin Croshere has the Indiana Pacers headed to a Game 5.

Croshere and Ron Artest each scored 18 points as the Pacers beat the New Jersey Nets 97-74 Tuesday night in Game 4 of their first-round best-of-five playoff series.

Game 5 is Thursday night in New Jersey, where the teams split the first two games.

Croshere played a combined 12 minutes in the first two games and scored five points, but didn't play in Game 3. But with Jermaine O'Neal in foul trouble, Croshere played 29 minutes.

''Remember me?'' Croshere cracked. ''I got a chance tonight due to Jermaine's early foul trouble and the coaches let me play through my early problems. Sometimes this doesn't happen. I made some mistakes and they let me play through those. I prepare to play every game and was prepared to go as long and as much as called on.''

Croshere fell out of coach Isiah Thomas' favor early in the season and never really worked his way back into the regular rotation. He had spurts of success -- four straight games of double-digit scoring in mid-March -- but Thomas didn't play him in half of the final eight games.

The fans never forgot Croshere though, giving him perhaps the loudest ovation of any Pacers player when he came off the bench in the first. They cheered each basket and erupted when he hit a 20-footer from the left wing late in the third to give the Pacers a 15-point lead.

He pumped his fist as the sold-out crowd waved their souvenir towels and New Jersey called a timeout.

Indiana used a 17-1 run in the third and led 68-53 lead at the end of the quarter.

Artest had four assists, two steals and a blocked shot in the decisive third quarter and his defensive pressure helped hold the Nets to a series-low 40 percent from the field.

Croshere saw his playing time diminish after the acquisition of Brad Miller in a midseason deal. That forced Jeff Foster to the bench and both players, along with O'Neal, play ahead of him.

''With the four- and five-spot we have four guys. There's only enough minutes for three of them,'' Thomas said.

''It all depends on the situation. The situation tonight was good for Austin. It's just a matter of who you're going to pick.''

The Pacers shot 67 percent in the third, committing only three turnovers, in turning around a lackluster first half -- and the game.

New Jersey's offense never got going as Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin ran into foul trouble and spotty shooting. Kidd scored 10 points, and Martin 13.

''I felt great. I thought a lot of my shots were good,'' Kidd said. ''They were between long and short.''

Nets coach Byron Scott said his team didn't respond to the pressure.

''We played as if we had the one-game cushion and our players just didn't show up,'' he said. ''Our objective was to come in here and win a game and regain homecourt advantage and we did that. Our guys took the night off. They were more aggressive and we weren't.''

Both teams struggled to find their rhythm in a ragged first half where there were nearly as many turnovers (24) as field goals (26).

Foul trouble also hurt the Pacers and Nets. Martin picked up his second foul with 3 minutes left in the first quarter and didn't return until just over 5 minutes into the second. He was ineffective while he was in the game, shooting 3-for-9 in the half.

Hornets 102, Magic 85

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baron Davis' second straight triple-double meant the Hornets will get to play another playoff round in Charlotte.

Davis had 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists and Charlotte beat the Orlando Magic to win the first-round playoff series in four games.

Davis averaged 27.5 points, 9.3 assists and nine rebounds for the Hornets, who are awaiting league approval to relocate to New Orleans for next season.

Jamal Magliore added 19 points, nine in the fourth quarter, for the Hornets before being ejected with 5:46 remaining after he struck Tracy McGrady in the head for a flagrant foul.

The Hornets will play the winner of the New Jersey-Indiana series in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The Nets and Pacers played Game 4 of their series later Tuesday night.

McGrady, who guaranteed an Orlando win in Game 4, led the Magic with 35 points and six assists.

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