Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/23

Game 1: Monday, December 23rd
Game 2: Friday, February 14th
Game 3: Sunday, February 16th
Game 4: Saturday, March 22nd

Hawks 97

(11-16, 2-12 away)

Pacers 112

(20-8, 13-1 home)

    Coverage: FSMW

    7:00 PM ET, December 23, 2002

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

    1 2 3 4 T
    ATL 28 26 22 2197
    IND 32 32 28 20112

    Top Performers

    Atlanta: J. Terry 25 Pts, 2 Reb, 10 Ast, 1 Stl

    Indiana: A. Harrington 40 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

    Harrington's 40 points power Pacers past Hawks

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Al Harrington was winded, and his right knee was aching. The minutes were taking a toll, but the crowd spurred him on by chanting "Al! Al! Al!''

    Ron Artest was on the right baseline looking for an open man, and Harrington had one last play in him. He took the pass from Artest, drove down the lane and converted the layup, finishing off the best game of his NBA career.

    Harrington scored a career-high 40 points, Brad Miller added 22 points and 11 rebounds and Artest had 24 points as the Indiana Pacers beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-97 Monday night to become the first Eastern Conference team to reach 20 wins.

    "I did feel real good throughout, and things just came my way. Our offense was clicking,'' said Harrington, who also had nine rebounds.

    Jamaal Tinsley added 14 assists for the Pacers (20-8), who improved to 13-1 at home. They had lost three of four -- with all three losses on the road.

    Harrington, who had scored 26 points twice in his career, had 27 in the first half. He was stuck on 38 after missing two straight jumpers late in the fourth quarter. He played a season-high 44 points and looked fatigued. But with 33 seconds left, he made his final basket.

    "It was a big moment in his career,'' coach Isiah Thomas said. "He wanted to get to 40 so bad.''

    Harrington's shooting has been erratic this season as he worked his way back into shape. On Dec. 24, he had 26 against Seattle, but was scoreless last week against Houston. Against Atlanta, he looked more like the player who was emerging as one of the top sixth men last season before tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Jan. 23.

    Making his third straight start at power forward in place of the injured Jermaine O'Neal, Harrington made his first five shots and passed his previous career high with a wide-open baseline 3-pointer to end the first half.

    "I thought there were a couple of times his game slipped in other areas because he was so focused on scoring,'' Thomas said. "But he got back into it.''

    Jason Terry led Atlanta with 25 points and 10 assists, Shareef Abdur-Rahim had 19 points and Glenn Robinson 16.

    "Any time we score 97 points and don't win the game, you know you've got problems on defense,'' Terry said. "They outhustled us, and our transition defense was terrible. That was the worst transition defense we played all year.''

    The Hawks shot 49 percent but could never sustain a serious rally. The Pacers, who led 64-54 at halftime, built their lead to 17 in the third before the Hawks closed to 95-86 midway through the fourth on a 3-pointer by Glover.

    Tinsley hit a jumper on the next possession, and the Pacers never let the lead dip below double digits again.

    The pounding down low, and several hard hits to the floor, caused Harrington to wrap both of his knees with ice in the locker room.

    "I felt real good out there tonight, but right now my knees are killing me,'' Harrington said. "I've been working really hard the last few weeks, and overall I feel good. My knees are sore, and I'm just tired. But it's a good tired.''

    Game notes
    O'Neal said he hoped to play Friday. ... The Hawks dropped to 2-12 on the road. ...Conseco Inc. plans to file motions in federal court to retain its naming rights to Conseco Fieldhouse. Conseco plans to pay its annual $2 million bill by Jan. 1 to continue the naming rights. The company filed for bankruptcy last week. ... Lisa Leslie and Reggie Miller were selected as the USA Basketball Female and Male Athletes of the Year. Miller was cited for his contributions at the world championships.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 97 112
    FGM-FGA 36-74 (.486) 39-79 (.494)
    3PM-3PA 5-14 (.357) 5-12 (.417)
    FTM-FTA 20-25 (.800) 29-38 (.763)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-31 13-45
    Assists 20 30
    Turnovers 15 10
    Steals 5 9
    Blocks 7 2
    Fast Break Points 7 10
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/1) 22 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Jason Terry Terry
    Points: 25
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 10
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Al Harrington Harrington
    Points: 40
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0