The Pacers (28-10) are off to the best in their NBA history and
improved to a league-best 17-1 at home. But with six of their
previous seven games decided by five points or less -- including
three overtime games -- coach Isiah Thomas said earlier this week he
wanted a chance to reward the deep reserves for their hard work.
So he told Brewer he would play early, and he did, coming off
the bench late in the first quarter. All 12 players scored, and the
starters rested the entire fourth quarter.
"I was very happy to get those guys in the game,'' Thomas said.
"Jamison is one of those guys who's really been working hard
behind the scenes and really trying to get his game together. I
wanted to put him out there early so I could let him know that I
respect what he's doing.''
Brewer, Primoz Brezec and Fred Jones each scored two points.
Brewer's nine minutes were only three less than his total in three
games this season -- and his first game since Nov. 12.
"I'm not used to playing,'' Brewer said. "I've never really
played before. I just have to take advantage of the opportunities I
do get. It was strange to be out there early. I'm more used to
playing with the other guys.''
They all got their chance after Indiana blew the game open in
the third quarter.
Artest, who said before the game he'd rather go to Walt Disney
World than play in the All-Star game, scored 11 of his points in
the third quarter and shut down Miami's Caron Butler.
Miami cut a nine-point halftime deficit to four after opening
the third on a 7-2 run. But Jermaine O'Neal, who scored 13,
followed by sinking two free throws, Artest hit a 3-pointer and
Miller added a jumper to make it 63-51.
Miller made all five shots from the field in the third and
scored 13 points.
"We wanted to put this team away,'' Miller said. "This was one
of our best overall efforts from start to finish.''
Official Marc Davis called a technical on Miami coach Pat Riley
late in the third quarter, allowing Indiana to hit three straight
free throws and stretch its lead to 73-55.
"They're just too big for us. They dominated us pretty much
with everything we tried to do,'' Riley said. "Defensively,
they're one of the best teams in the league. They made it very
difficult running our offense.''
The Heat snapped a six-game losing streak with a win Tuesday at
Detroit and hung with the Pacers early. Butler scored 12 points in
the half, but the Heat trailed 51-42 at halftime.
Caron Butler, Miami's second-leading scorer with 14.1 points,
had only two points on free throws.
As for Artest, he entered the game averaging 16.1 points and was
third in the league with 2.33 steals. But Artest's name was left
off the All-Star ballot, and he said the snub has made him not want
to play in the Feb. 9 game at Atlanta.
"I'm not looking forward to it this year. I'm not on the
ballot,'' Artest said before the game. "I'm one of the best
perimeter players in the league.''
Artest was suspended for three games without pay and fined
$35,000 for hurling a television monitor and smashing a camera
after a loss in New York.
Al Harrington's missed free throw in the second quarter
ended his streak of 26 straight. He finished with 13 points. ...
Miami's Travis Best and Eddie Jones did not travel because of
injuries. ... Indiana's Isiah Thomas would coach the Eastern
Conference All-Stars if the Pacers still have the best record by
Jan. 26. ... Pacers forward Jonathan Bender will be out two-to-four
weeks with a torn muscle in his left calf.