Monday , Mar , 22 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Pacers win big, lose O’Neal in collision

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Reggie Miller scored 17 points and Ron
Artest and Al Harrington each netted 15, as the Indiana Pacers posted their
largest margin of victory this season with a 101-77 dismantling of the Chicago
Bulls at Conseco Fieldhouse.

With the win, Indiana moved 5 1/2 games ahead of the idle, but surging Detroit
Pistons for first place in both the Central Division and Eastern Conference
playoff race.

But the Pacers lost All Star forward Jermaine O’Neal to an apparent left knee
sprain in the second quarter. O’Neal, who collided with Bulls forward Ronald
Dupree, will be re-evaluated Tuesday.

“It’s a combination of a bruise and a sprain,” Indiana coach Rick Carlisle
said. “At this point it’s not deemed to be serious, but we’ll see how it is

Indiana snapped its third two-game losing streak of the season and has yet to
suffer three straight losses. The Pacers also halted Chicago’s fifth two-game
winning streak, as the Bulls failed again to put together three consecutive
victories, something they have yet to do this season.

Eddy Curry scored 13 points to pace Chicago, which hasn’t won a game at
Indiana since March 17, 1998. The Bulls have dropped 11 straight and 12 of
their last 13 on the road against the Pacers.

Chicago head coach Scott Skiles sat his starters most of the second half.

“I don’t think it was a bad decision,” Skiles said afterwards. “If you look at
the game, it was common sense. We couldn’t get close enough to put them back

Added Curry, who played just seven minutes after halftime: “I wasn’t really
surprised. Coach makes all the decisions. If he wants to look in a different
direction, I’m okay with that.”

Indiana controlled the pace of the game from the start, despite losing O’Neal
with more than eight minutes to play in the second quarter.

The Pacers led by as many as 14 points in the first quarter when they used a
15-2 surge to pull ahead 28-14. Chicago pulled within 29-18 heading into the
second, and later cut the deficit to seven midway through the period, but
Indiana responded with a 14-3 burst.

Jamaal Tinsley’s three-pointer capped the spurt and gave the Pacers a 47-29
lead with 2:34 remaining before the break. He led all players with 11 first
half points on 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc, as the Pacers carried a
49-32 advantage into the locker room.

“He came out real aggressive tonight,” Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich said of
Tinsley. “He made some three-pointers early that kind of got him going.”

Indiana shot just 38 percent in the first half, but its bench outscored
Chicago’s by a 14-2 margin. The Bulls also committed 11 turnovers, matching
their number of field goals (11-of-33).

Chicago had six more turnovers in the third quarter and fell behind by
as many as 26 points. Miller, who had just six points for Indiana in the first
half, was 4-of-5 in the third for 11 points, despite not scoring for the final
5 1/2 minutes of the period.

“I concentrated on looking for my shot more,” Miller said of his performance.
“I just wanted to get that winning taste back.”

Fred Jones’ jumper at the buzzer gave the Pacers a 77-53 lead heading into the
fourth, and Chicago would not get closer than 20 the rest of the way.