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Pacers win 14th straight at Fieldhouse

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Somehow, Indiana is finding different ways
to win at home.

Against the Los Angeles Clippers, it was zone defense and a
resurgent Jermaine O'Neal.

O'Neal had 21 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots, and
Ron Artest and Al Harrington each scored 17 as the Indiana Pacers
beat the Clippers 108-101 Sunday.

The Pacers won their 14th straight at home, the second-longest
streak at Conseco Fieldhouse. The 1999-2000 Pacers set the team
record with 25 straight victories.

"We're finding the energy somewhere,'' said Artest, who had
four steals. "We want to win so bad. We just focus and find a way
to do all the things that it takes to win.''

Brad Miller had 13 points and 11 rebounds, Jamaal Tinsley had 15
assists and Erick Strickland added 13 points, including four
3-pointers for Indiana.

Elton Brand scored 17 points, grabbed 14 and 10 assists for the
Clippers for his first career triple-double. Corey Maggette scored
25 points -- on 11-for-19 shooting -- and Lamar Odom had 14.

The Eastern Conference leaders again allowed one of the NBA's
worst teams to stay in contention through most of the game.

Against Toronto, Indiana needed O'Neal's three-point play with
3.2 seconds left to win. Then the Pacers had to hold Seattle to 10
points in the fourth for a victory.

On Sunday, though, the Pacers broke the game open in the fourth
quarter.

The Pacers switched to a zone defense, forcing the Clippers to
take outside shots and they couldn't adjust. They went 8-for-23 in
the fourth, taking 12 of those shots from 3-point range.

"It was something we went to and it was working for us,'' coach
Isiah Thomas said. "Our guys were active, alert and forced them to
miss outside shots. That gave us a spurt.''

The Pacers opened the quarter with a 14-2 run, highlighted by a
spectacular alley-oop from Harrington to Ron Mercer. Mercer
sprinted down the right side, grabbed the ball with his right hand
almost above the rim and put it in.

"I thought I threw it too high,'' Harrington said. "Mercer
used to have hops. They're coming back.''

Minutes later, the Pacers' lead swelled to 18 points.

Strickland wasn't worried about Indiana's inability to put teams
away early.

"We know we're at home, we know we're capable of playing good
defense and we know we'll get our stops,'' he said.

The game was much closer through the first three quarters.

The Clippers shot 50 percent in the second quarter and played
tight defense, limiting Indiana's quality shots. Plus, O'Neal was
struggling offensively. While he had six blocked shots in the first
quarter, he scored only three points in the half.

The teams were tied at 58 at the break.

When Los Angeles started to struggle in the third, O'Neal took
over for Indiana. He scored 12 points in the quarter and made the
last basket of the period to stretch Indiana's lead to 83-78.

"I knew I couldn't play any worse,'' O'Neal said. "I had to
really focus in to make the shots. My teammates were getting me the
ball. They didn't give up on me.''

That type of teamwork is what the Clippers could use, Brand
said.

"We've got a lot of talent on this team, we just can't seem to
put it together,'' he said. "We need to look at Indiana as a
model. They play their roles and they win.''

Game notes
The Pacers are 7-0 against the Western Conference. ...
Brand and Eric Piatowski were each whistled for technical fouls.
... The Pacers won 17 straight at Market Square Arena during the
1995-96 season. ... O'Neal slammed his right shoulder into the
backboard post in the first quarter and stayed down for several
minutes. He didn't leave the game, however. ... The Pacers had 34
assists to the Clippers' 23. ... The Clippers are 7-13 on the road.
... The Pacers are 29-4 when leading entering the fourth with the
lead.

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