O'Neal leads Pacers over Jazz
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Jermaine O'Neal scored 27 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Utah Jazz, 93-83, at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Stephen Jackson and Austin Croshere each contributed 16 points and Sarunas Jasikevicius chipped in with 11 points for the Pacers, who have won three of their last four games.
Mehmet Okur had 19 points and 12 rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko contributed 11 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds for the Jazz, who had a two-game winning streak snapped.
The Jazz had a slim 62-61 margin going into the final 12 minutes. However, the Pacers took the lead for good on their first basket of the quarter.
Croshere hit a three-pointer to spark a 21-7 run capped off by an Anthony Johnson trey to make the score 82-69 with a little under seven minutes left in the contest.
Indiana continued to hit baskets and never let Utah get closer than eight points.
The Jazz made it an 89-81 game after Okur hit two free throws with 1:31 remaining in the contest.
However, Indiana was able to kill off a good chunk of the clock on its next possession, running the 24-second clock down to zero and grabbing a rebound off of a Jackson three-point miss. Utah fouled and Jackson hit both of his free throws to ice the contest for the Pacers.
"It's always a struggle when you play Utah," said Pacers coach Rick Carlisle. "It's a war of attrition. If you don't play hard you get run over like a steamroller. You have to be very disciplined to play them and beat them."
The Jazz had an early 6-0 lead as the Pacers did not make their first basket until the 7:32 mark of the first quarter. However, they found their scoring touch after O'Neil got them on the scoreboard and the Pacers led 19-18 after the first 12 minutes.
The contest see-sawed throughout the second quarter. The largest lead in the second was after O'Neal hit a jumper with a little over six minutes to play to put Indiana up 30-25.
The scored was tied at 35-35 with under one minute to play, but Jasikevicius hit a three-pointer and Deron Williams countered with a layup to make the score 38-37 with Indiana taking a lead into the locker room.
O'Neal led all scorers at the half with 14 points. Okur led the Jazz with nine points.
Neither team was able to pull ahead in the third quarter with the score remaining close throughout. Utah had the largest lead of the quarter after Jarron Collins hit two free throws to give Utah a 62-57 lead with 1:19 remaining.
"That was a winnable ball game on our part," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "I think some guys weren't ready, when given the opportunity. They beat us off the dribble too many times tonight. We had it in our hands, if we wouldn't have given up on it."
The Jazz continue their five-game road trip at Milwaukee on Saturday...Indiana travels to New York for a matchup on Saturday...Indiana has defeated Utah in the last seven contests...The Pacers committed 19 turnovers and the Jazz had 15 in the game...Utah shot 43 percent in the game and Indiana shot 41 percent.IND UTA