Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 10/30

Game 1: Tuesday, October 30th
Game 2: Tuesday, November 13th
Game 3: Friday, December 21st
Game 4: Saturday, December 29th

Nets 94

(16-8, 7-6 away)

Pacers 100

(15-13, 10-4 home)

    Coverage: FSMW

    7:00 PM ET, December 21, 2001

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

    1 2 3 4 T
    NJ 24 55 0 1594
    IND 20 69 0 11100

    Top Performers

    NJ: K. Van Horn 19 Pts, 8 Reb, 5 Ast

    Ind: J. O'Neal 29 Pts, 9 Reb, 3 Ast, 5 Stl, 3 Blk

    Miller passes Bird for 19th on NBA scoring list

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal has established himself as one of the best post players in the Eastern Conference. He's hoping to become mentioned as one of the top players in the league.

    Jermaine O'Neal


    Jermaine O'Neal, left, scored a season-high 29 points.

    With more performances like his one against New Jersey, he will be.

    O'Neal scored 29 points, Reggie Miller added 16 and Al Harrington had 14 points and 11 rebounds as the Indiana Pacers beat New Jersey 100-94 Friday night to snap the Nets' four-game winning streak.

    O'Neal made 10 of 16 shots, added three blocks, nine rebounds and five steals while reaching 20 points for the seventh time in eight games. O'Neal, who credits his improvement over the past year to assistant coach Mark Aguirre, said he's ready to rank himself among the elite -- with one caveat.

    "I'm one of the best, as a young guy right now," he said. "I have to give Mark a lot of credit. He worked with me all summer, every day. He's one of the best 6-4, 6-5 low-post players ever to play the game. I'm learning. I'd like to be one of the best. I'm getting there."

    Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said O'Neal, who has struggled to keep his temper in check, maintained his patience and composure in the post against the Nets.

    The Pacers held a 15-point lead at the end of the third quarter, but Keith Van Horn, who led the Nets with 19 points, hit a 3-pointer to make it 92-85 with 3:10 remaining. Jason Collins made two free throws and added a basket on the next possession as the Nets pulled to 94-90 with 1:28 to go.

    Miller, who passed Larry Bird for 19th on the NBA's career scoring list, hit a jumper to help the Pacers seal the win.

    Aaron Williams added 17 points and Jason Kidd 15 for the Nets.

    The Pacers stretched an 11-point halftime lead to as many as 16 in the third on the strength of 50 percent shooting. The Nets slumped, shooting only 8-of-23 in the third.

    "We took bad shots toward the end of the game," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "Bad shooting doesn't really upset me if they have intensity. We never got intensity. They did."

    Williams and Lucious Harris, who added 13, keyed the second-half run for the Nets. Williams, Harris and Richard Jefferson were 8-for-16 off the bench in the second half as the Nets outscored the Pacers by three.

    "I thought our second group of guys did a great job," Scott said. "I probably should have left them in there for most of the game."

    The Pacers used a 14-2 run in the second to take a 40-37 lead. Van Horn hit a 3 to tie the score, then Jonathan Bender made two free throws to give the Pacers a lead they would never relinquish.

    Two possessions later, Miller took a bounce pass from Rose, faked a 3 and drove down the baseline for a finger-roll layup for his 21,792nd career point. Bird coached Miller from 1997-2000.

    "To move past a guy I played against, sometimes played with, respected and played for as a coach; it's a great thrill," Miller said. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd be in the position I am now."

    Bender gave the Pacers a lift off the bench, scoring 11 points and playing all 12 minutes in the second quarter, and a career-high 30 overall. Bender had playeda total of only 27 minutes and received two DNP's in the last five games.

    Thomas said Bender hasn't played because of his ability, but because of the players in front of him -- like Miller.

    "His contributions were tremendous on the defensive end," Thomas said. "He blocked shots, he changed shots, he discouraged shots. I thought he was aggressive but under control."

    Game notes
    Miller now has 21,801 career points. ... The Pacers are the first team in the Central Division to reach 15 wins. But they have five more losses than Milwaukee and four more than Detroit. ... The Nets entered shooting just 70 percent from the free-throw line but finished 16-for-20. ... Indiana's Jalen Rose has made 20 straight free throws ... The Nets won the first two games of the season series. ... New Jersey lost for the first time since Dec. 8 against Milwaukee.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 94 100
    FGM-FGA 36-82 (.439) 34-72 (.472)
    3PM-3PA 6-18 (.333) 2-8 (.250)
    FTM-FTA 16-20 (.800) 30-41 (.732)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 12-37 13-40
    Assists 26 21
    Turnovers 16 14
    Steals 5 14
    Blocks 2 5
    Fast Break Points 8 20
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (0/0) 26 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Keith Van Horn Van Horn
    Points: 19
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 29
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 5
    Blk: 3