Pacers cruise to seventh straight win

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS Jermaine O'Neal had 27 points and 11 rebounds and Ron Artest added 21 points in the NBA-leading Indiana Pacers' 93-70 victory over the New York Knicks on Thursday night.

The Pacers (13-2) used an 18-2 run in the third quarter to pull away for their seventh straight victory.

O'Neal helped put the game away with 4:37 to play in the third, hitting a hook shot in the lane to give Indiana a 69-50 lead.

The star forward, who apologized after criticizing Pacers fans for booing earlier in the season, slapped hands with several fans after hitting the shot.

Kurt Thomas had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks, who lost for the first time in four games. New York was coming off a 97-92 victory in Minnesota on Wednesday night.

The Pacers scored 27 points off 24 Knicks turnovers and held their opponent under 79 points for the eighth time in nine games. They came into the game leading the NBA in fewest points allowed, with opponents averaging 81.4 points.

The Knicks shot just 35 percent from the field in scoring a season-low 70 points. Frank Williams was the only other New York player in double figures, finishing with 11 points.

The Pacers relied heavily on their two biggest offensive stars.

O'Neal jump-started the Pacers with 12 points and four rebounds in the first quarter, and Artest took over in the second with 11 points and two steals to lead the Pacers to a 52-40 halftime lead.

The Pacers didn't turn the ball over until the 8:50 mark of the second quarter and had just three turnovers in the half.

O'Neal, who has struggled with back injuries this season, played just three quarters. Artest also had five steals.

Nets 102, Clippers 96

LOS ANGELES Kerry Kittles scored 22 points and Jason Kidd had 18 points and 10 assists Thursday night to lead the New Jersey Nets to a 102-96 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Nets led almost all the way, but the Clippers kept it close before losing their fifth in a row. Jason Collins added 14 points for New Jersey.

Corey Maggette had 20 points, and Chris Wilcox had 15 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles.

Quentin Richardson had 17 points after shooting 0-for-7 in the first half. He finished 5-of-15.

The victory was the Nets' fifth in seven road games this season. They've won only two of seven at home.

The Clippers closed within 80-75 on Doug Overton's layup midway through the fourth quarter. But Kenyon Martin made two free throws and hit a short jumper as the Nets opened the lead again.

The Nets sealed the win by going 14-of-15 from the free throw line in the final 5:13.

New Jersey was ahead 72-66 going into the fourth quarter, moving ahead after Los Angeles drew even at 52 on a pair of free throws by Maggette with 5:26 left in the third period. That foul was Martin's fourth and second in a span of 14 seconds, so he sat out the rest of the third quarter.

Corey Maggette scored 13 points in the quarter.

Down 29-21 early in the second, New Jersey reeled off a 22-2 run to go up 43-31 with 2:57 remaining in the first half. The Nets led 45-37 at halftime and never trailed in the second half.

The Clippers went frigid from the floor in the second quarter, making only three of 22 shots. Chris Wilcox's dunk 34 seconds before halftime represented the only points by a Los Angeles starter in the quarter.

Richardson, playing despite a sprained left ankle, missed all five of his shots in the second quarter. He also missed all four shots in the nine minutes he played before hurting his ankle in a loss to Houston on Monday night.

Wilcox made all four shots he took from the floor and scored nine points in the first quarter to help the Clippers grab a 25-19 lead.

The Nets were the cold shooters in the first quarter, making just seven of 23 shots as they fell behind. Collins' six points was their high for the period.

Notes: Los Angeles F Elton Brand missed his 10th consecutive game with a stress fracture in his right foot. Brand said before the game that he expects to begin practicing again by next Tuesday or Wednesday. ... New Jersey coach Byron Scott believes the Nets are capable of making it to the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year despite Alonzo Mourning's retirement. ''The thing that helps us is that these guys are still together, but the experience level is a factor now. I definitely think we can get back there. I think we can still win it.'' ... The Clippers wore throwback uniforms, their 1979 white outfits with power blue and orange accents, and nautical flags down each side of their shorts, their uniform when the played in San Diego. Melvin Ely got into the theme, sporting a large afro. ''He is the real version of the 1979 throwback guy, with the 'fro and high socks and everything to go with the uniform,'' teammate Corey Maggette said, chuckling.

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