INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal had a rare triple double
with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 10 blocked shots, and made the
winning three-point play with 3.2 seconds left as the Indiana
Pacers beat the Toronto Raptors 101-98 Wednesday night.
Erick Strickland scored 19 points and Reggie Miller 16 as the
Eastern Conference-leading Pacers (30-12) couldn't shake the lowly
Raptors until the final seconds.
It was Miller who opened the lane for O'Neal to score the easy
basket in the closing seconds. Miller flattened Antonio Davis,
leaving O'Neal wide open for a dunk. He hit the free throw to make
Toronto's Lindsey Hunter made a free throw and missed the second
intentionally. Ron Artest grabbed the rebound, hit one of two to
seal the victory and improve Indiana's home record to a league-best
O'Neal set career and Pacers records for blocked shots. He had
four blocks in the first half, and three each in the third and
Brad Miller had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who
fell behind early against the Raptors.
The Raptors entered shooting only 41 percent from the field, but
against the Pacers, they made 17 of their first 34 shots, never
trailed and led by as many as 13 in the first half.
Voshon Lenard led the Raptors with 19 points, Jerome Williams
had 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Alvin Williams added 17 points.
In their two other meetings this year, Toronto took halftime
leads of 57-44 and 56-49 but lost both games. The Raptors met the
same outcome Wednesday.
The Pacers trailed 71-68 at the end of three quarters, but went
ahead 85-81 after two straight baskets by O'Neal. The Raptors
regained the lead until two straight baskets by Ron Mercer put
Indiana ahead for good at 91-89.
Indiana's Jamaal Tinsley hit a 3-pointer as time expired in the
first half to make it a 52-42 deficit. The review by officials Ted
Bernhardt, George Toliver and Leon Wood took less than the
NBA-mandated two minutes.
The outcome of Indiana's victory over Detroit on Saturday was in
doubt for 17 minutes as officials dawdled in ruling O'Neal's
winning jumper good.
The NBA's new instant replay rule allows officials to review
plays in the final seconds of a quarter.
Indiana's Jeff Foster was whistled for a flagrant foul in
the second quarter. It was Indiana's ninth flagrant this year. ...
Toronto coach Lenny Wilkens remains one victory away from 100 with
four different teams. ... The Pacers need to beat Seattle on Friday
for Isiah Thomas to coach the Eastern Conference in the Feb. 9
All-Star game. ... O'Neal's previous high for blocks was eight in a
triple overtime game on March 13, 2001 at Houston. Five other
Pacers had nine blocked shots.