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Artest file: Flagrant, tech, battles Riles, raises fingers

1/28/2003

MIAMI (AP) -- Pat Riley's face was still red 10 minutes after his
team's latest loss, and no wonder. He had just endured two
confrontations with tempestuous Ron Artest and another
fourth-quarter collapse by the Miami Heat.

Reggie Miller sank a 3-pointer with 1:10 left to put the Indiana
Pacers ahead to stay, then added a layup with 41 seconds left in a 102-95 victory Monday night.

The Heat lost after leading at the start of the fourth quarter
for the eighth time, which left Riley fuming. He was also angry
about Artest, who made an obscene gesture from center court as the
Pacers rallied in the final quarter.

Artest twice initiated testy exchanges with Riley in front of
the Heat bench. The second time, Riley pushed Artest away.

"The league ought to deal with that," Riley said. "That's
crazy. I scream like crazy at officials and my players. I never,
ever have talked to an opposing player, and I don't want anybody
talking to me or coming over to my bench. ...

"That's who he is. He's a hell of a player, but he has got to
get that under control."

Pacers coach Isiah Thomas defended his forward, saying Artest
inspired Indiana's comeback from a nine-point second-half deficit.
Artest scored 18 points for the Pacers, who won their fourth game
in a row.

"Ron gave us the courage in this game to just compete," Thomas
said. "He was competing so hard, it almost made the rest of the
team feel they weren't playing as hard as they could."

Artest's first exchange with Riley came in the opening quarter.
Riley and Caron Butler received technical fouls for contending
Artest had fouled Butler while jostling for position during a dead
ball. As Riley continued to complain, Artest walked up to the coach
and joined the argument.

"Don't talk to me," Riley angrily told Artest.

Peace prevailed until the fourth quarter. With 8:13 left, Artest
was called for a flagrant foul when he ran over Butler as they
chased a loose ball out of bounds. Butler sank both free throws to
put Miami ahead 81-76.

Then, two minutes later, Artest hit a driving scoop shot, was
fouled and walked toward the Miami bench with his right arm flexed.
As he and assistant coach Keith Askins had words, Artest brushed
against Riley. They began shouting at each other, and Riley shoved
Artest away.

"Coach Riley was into it," Artest said. "Their bench was into
it. We were into it. That's how it's supposed to be. I didn't think
I was that close to him."

Artest was called for a technical. After Miami's Eddie Jones
missed the free throw, Artest sank his free throw to cut Miami's
lead to 83-82. He then backpedaled up the court, holding aloft the
index finger of his right hand and the middle finger of his left
hand.

"That was bad on my part," Artest said. "I shouldn't have
done that. I should know better."

Artest and teammate Brad Miller each have four flagrant fouls, the league high. Earlier this month, 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.

Reggie Miller's 3-pointer over former teammate Travis Best put Indiana
ahead 96-95. Miller then beat Best on a backdoor cut, took a pass
from Brad Miller and hit a layup to make it 98-95.

With the Heat down by three in the final minute, Malik Allen
committed a turnover and Jones missed a 3-pointer. Al Harrington
sank two free throws with 19 seconds left to clinch the win.

"We don't mentally hang in there at the end of a game," Riley
said. "The team is playing hard, and they deserve to win. They can
kick themselves for not finishing games."

Reggie Miller scored 21 points to lead the Pacers. Butler had 22 points for Miami, and Best added 20.

Game notes
Butler was held to a season-low two points against Indiana
in the last meeting. ... The Pacers are 3-0 against Miami, ensuring
that they'll win the season series for the first time in five
years. ... The Pacers, who have the NBA's best home record at 21-1,
improved to 12-11 on the road.