INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Isiah Thomas used a motivational halftime
speech to get the Indiana Pacers refocused against the shorthanded
After trailing by 13 at intermission, Indiana outscored Toronto
by 37 points in the second half to defeat the Raptors 108-84.
"We had an emotional speech from coach at halftime, and I think
our concentration level from that really picked up in the second
half. We really worked harder on our defense, and I think that, in
turn, helped the offense get started,'' Jermaine O'Neal said.
The Pacers improved to 5-1, their best start after six NBA games
since joining the league for the 1976-77 season. Indiana started
four of its first five ABA seasons with a mark of at least 5-1.
"If everybody does their job, there's no way we can lose,''
O'Neal said. "We knew we couldn't come out any flatter than we did
in the first half.
Indiana trailed 57-44 at the half, then scored the first seven
points of the third quarter to begin a 21-7 run that produced a
65-64 lead. The Pacers finished the period with a 9-2 run for a
74-68 lead. Artest, Harrington, O'Neal and Miller scored 28 of the
Pacers' 30 third-quarter points.
"I think we were all displeased with the first half,'' Thomas
said. "The defensive effort (in the second half) was great.
Whenever there was a breakdown, we covered for it with our energy
Miller scored six points and Mercer four as the Pacers put the
game away with a 15-0 run midway through the fourth quarter that
left them ahead 95-73 with 4:26 to play.
Lenard shot 7-of-11 in the first half and Alvin Williams was
Raptors' coach Lenny Wilkens, who had just nine players healthy
enough to play, was wary of the Pacers
"We lost our intensity. That really hurt us,'' Wilkens said.
"Their big guys really hurt us, too. They made a run, and we knew
that they were going to, because all good teams make a run.
"They came at us, and our big men gave them position. We can't
let guys get position like that.''
Indiana outrebounded the Raptors 52-38 and outscored Toronto
54-30 in the paint.
Miller leads all NBA centers in free throws attempted (59)
and free throws made (50). He was 7-for-10 Saturday... Lindsey
Hunter averaged 19 points in his three previous games, seven above
his season average, but managed just two points against the Pacers.
...Including the first six games of this season, O'Neal has scored
10 or more points in 42 straight games, the longest active streak
on the Pacers' roster.