Pacers return home, overcome Van Exel

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana Pacers coach Isiah Thomas pulled
point guard Jamaal Tinsley aside during warmups and told him he had
a mission -- make his teammates look good.

Tinsley did just that, handing out 16 assists and grabbing 10
rebounds Tuesday night in the Indiana Pacers' 104-96 victory over
the Denver Nuggets.

"He came out. He ran the show and he got people easy baskets,
easy looks," Thomas said.

Jalen Rose had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Jermaine O'Neal added
23 points and 11 rebounds and Al Harrington scored 18 for the
Pacers, who were playing their first game at home following a
five-game road trip that ended with a 31-point loss to the Los
Angeles Clippers.

Tinsley ran an up-tempo offense that produced 27 fast-break
points and 56 points in the paint. He also finished three points
shy of his second triple-double in two weeks. Tinsley said Thomas'
request was no different from his approach toward every game.

"I just took that as I am going to keep doing what I've been
doing," he said. "I'm just trying to run, get the easy baskets in
transition and help guys make shots."

Nick Van Exel had 30 points and 10 assists for the Nuggets and
Raef LaFrentz had his fourth straight double-double with 13 points
and 12 rebounds. Voshon Lenard scored 13 of his 20 points in the
fourth quarter.

The Nuggets trailed 85-70 at the end of the third quarter, but
Lenard scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers, in the first six
minutes of the fourth to make it 91-82.

Indiana pushed the lead back to 12, and the Nuggets got no
closer than eight the rest of the way as they lost for the fifth
time in six games.

The Pacers outrebounded Denver 52-39. The Nuggets only had 10
offensive rebounds, despite averaging nearly 15 a game.

Thomas said the Pacers played with a lot of energy and
enthusiasm. He said he had a difficult decision during the Clippers
game -- keep playing his starters and try and catch up or rest them.
He opted for the rest.

"In a way, the Clippers game helped us," Thomas said. "We
didn't have to expand a lot of energy to win that game. I thought
tonight they had good legs."

The Pacers took a lead two minutes into the game and never
trailed. They shot 62.5 percent in the second quarter, with
Harrington making all six shots from the floor and Tinsley shooting

Harrington had seven points, two rebounds and a block during a
13-4 run that extended Indiana's lead to 53-39. Harrington, Rose
and O'Neal combined for 44 first-half points and the Pacers led

"We just don't have the guys on this team that can score to be
able to come back from that kind of deficit," Van Exel said.

An 8-0 run near the end of the third gave the Pacers their
largest lead of the game, 85-67.

LaFrentz said the Nuggets couldn't adjust to Indiana's
transition game.

"They got a lot of breakaway dunks and we just couldn't get
back," LaFrentz said. "We just got pounded on the boards. They
did a good job of finding an open shot and they really ran on us."

The game was the start of a four-game road trip over five days
against Eastern Conference opponents for Denver. LaFrentz, who has
been the subject of trade rumors, said the losing skid has been

"It's a different problem every game," he said. "We get one
thing right and then another wrong.

Game notes
Tinsley was named the NBA's Rookie of the Month for
November. He is the first Pacer to win the award since Chuck Person
did it twice during the 1986-87 season. ... The Pacers' 63 points
matched their high for a first half. ... Reggie Miller extended his
streak of games with at least one 3-pointer to a league-high 31
straight. He finished with 11 points ... The Pacers are 8-2 when
they score 100 points. ... The Pacers have been at .500 five times.
Each time, they've won the next game. ... Pacers point guard Travis
Best sat out with a lower back strain. He missed the last seven
games of November with a strained right hamstring.

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