O'Neal, feeling ill before the game, scored a career-high 38
points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 109-103 victory over
Cleveland on Saturday night.
O'Neal scored his previous career high of 30 points at Cleveland
"I had a headache and stuff. Once I came out and got going, I
felt kind of good," O'Neal said.
"Gund Arena, I guess, is now my best arena."
O'Neal shot 15-for-20 from the field and 8-for-9 from the line,
beating the Cavaliers on jump shots and in the paint.
"He was dominant and we just didn't have an answer," Cavaliers
coach John Lucas said. "We doubled him and they kept making shots.
He had everything going. We just have to really adjust and get him
the next time."
O'Neal shot 75 percent from the floor and Indiana shot a
season-best 61 percent. The Pacers' previous best was 52 percent
against Portland in November.
"When a team shoots 60 percent, it's tough to win, no matter
what percentage you shoot," Jumaine Jones said.
The Cavaliers shot 50 percent.
O'Neal scored eight points early in the fourth quarter as
Indiana pushed its lead to 97-84.
The Cavaliers closed within 99-92 with less than three minutes
O'Neal hit a pair of free throws and Al Harrington scored two of
his 11 in a reserve role with a turnaround jumper to make it 103-95
with 1:34 left.
Reserve Bryant Stith played only six minutes, but scored
Cleveland's last 10 points. He hit a jumper and scored on a pair of
drives as Cleveland closed within 103-100.
Stith had a put-back blocked by O'Neal -- his only blocked shot
of the game.
"I never saw him," Stith said.
Jamaal Tinsley and Harrington each hit a free throw to put
Indiana up 105-100.
Stith hit a 3 with 4.8 seconds left, but Jalen Rose and Reggie
Miller hit free throws to seal the victory.
Miller shot 5-for-7, including 4-for-5 from 3-point range, and
finished with 18 points. Tinsley had 14 assists.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas entered the game with 8:33 left in the third
period and shot 1-for-6. He failed to slow down O'Neal, who shot
3-for-4 in the third quarter against the 7-foot-3 center.
"They were only down four in the first half so we knew 'Z' was
coming in some point," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. "'Z' was
putting pressure on us in the post, so we went back at him."
Andre Miller and Mihm put together a six-point run to end the
first half, cutting Indiana's lead to 56-52.
O'Neal was 7-for-10 for 14 points in the first half.
"There's something about this building. The rims look as wide
as the ocean to him," Thomas said, adding that O'Neal's quickness
in the post is why he was effective.
"I would say the quickest guy I saw in this league in the post
was Moses Malone. I think he's quicker in the post than Moses
Malone in terms of his moves," Thomas said.
Lamond Murray left the game with 5:41 remaining in the
third quarter with a lower back strain. ... The Pacers have won 13
out of the last 15 against the Cavaliers and the last seven at
Cleveland. ... The series between the Cavaliers and Pacers is tied
at 61-61. ... Pacers forward Jeff Foster scored Indiana's first six
points and finished with 10. ... Coaches Isiah Thomas and John
Lucas traded technical fouls in the third quarter. The Cavaliers
haven't allowed an opponent to shoot 60 percent since March 7,
2000, against Utah.