Monday , Mar , 08 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Indiana Pacers Team Report – March 8

=== Indiana Pacers Team Report – March 8 ===

(Sports Network) – Jermaine O’Neal collected 31 points and hauled down 10
rebounds, as the Indiana Pacers became the first team in the NBA to clinch a
playoff berth with a 103-94 triumph over the Denver Nuggets on Sunday at the
Pepsi Center.

Anthony Johnson started at the point for Indiana because of Jamaal Tinsley’s
sprained toe, and scored 21 points to go along with seven assists.

Jeff Foster chipped in with 11 points and 10 boards for Indiana, which won its
fifth straight and for the eighth time in nine games.

With the Pacers up 88-86 in the fourth quarter, Johnson put a runner hard off
the glass and in to push Indiana’s lead to four points, but Carmelo Anthony
responded with a driving layup to make it 90-88.

O’Neal then converted a three-point play after being fouled on a jumper in the
lane, and Earl Boykins missed at the other end, leaving Indiana ahead 93-88
with just over a minute to go.

Johnson connected on a free throw to make it a six-point game, and with 35
seconds to go, Boykins hit a layup to close the gap to 94-90. Johnson then hit
two free throws and Voshon Lenard did the same for the Nuggets, making it
96-92.

Reggie Miller then drained two foul shots before Anthony hit a jumper to keep
it a four-point game with 12 seconds left. But Anthony committed a technical
foul against Fred Jones on the ensuing inbound pass, and Jones hit the free
throw to put Indiana up five and end the drama.

The Pacers, who hold an 8 1/2 game edge on the New Jersey Nets for the top
spot in the Eastern Conference, will return to action on Tuesday against the
Toronto Raptors.

IND