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O'Neal leads Pacers with 33 points and 11 boards

2/2/2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- It was just another night at the office for
the Indiana Pacers: Show up, find out who's suspended and win at
home.

"We got our normal notice as soon as we got to the game. At
4:45, someone's suspended. That's kind of normal," Brad Miller
said with a laugh.

Jermaine O'Neal, Brad Miller and Reggie Miller all had
double-doubles as the Indiana Pacers beat the Boston Celtics
109-100 Saturday night while playing without suspended coach Isiah
Thomas.

Thomas, who will coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars, was
suspended for two games Saturday by the NBA for his role in a fight
between two players during a loss to Toronto. Assistant coach
Brendan Malone earned the win against Boston and will also coach
Tuesday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

"I only need 800 more to get into the Hall of Fame," Malone
quipped.

The Pacers, who haven't lost three in a row, snapped just their
fourth two-game losing streak of the season.

"It was kind of weird looking over there and seeing Brendan,"
Brad Miller said. "We just needed this win no matter who was out
there. It was a big win for us."

O'Neal had a season-high 33 points and 11 rebounds, Brad Miller
added 21 points and 12 rebounds and Reggie Miller had 14 and 10.
Jamaal Tinsley had 10 assists and Al Harrington had 14 points as
the Pacers are 22-2 at home.

Thomas also missed an opportunity to scout some of the All-Stars
he'll be coaching in next weekend's game. Boston's Paul Pierce,
Antoine Walker and Brad Miller are reserves in the game while
O'Neal was voted a starter.

Pierce scored 29 points and had 10 rebounds, Walker had 22
points and J.R. Bremer added 20.

All those double-doubles for the Pacers help them dominate on
the boards, outrebounding Boston 55-38, including 16-7 on the
offensive glass.

"We needed to go out there and lock them up and control the
boards tonight," Brad Miller said.

There were no blowups -- major ones at least -- this time for the
Pacers, who also played without suspended forward Ron Artest. Nor
was it a blowout for the Celtics, who were coming off a 118-66 loss
to Detroit on Friday. It was the most lopsided loss in team history
and the second-biggest road victory in NBA history.

Boston rediscovered some of its offense against Indiana.

After trailing by 15 in the third, the Celtics used a 10-2 run
that pulled them to 90-83. Then former Celtic Ron Mercer, who
scored 10, made two straight baskets to push the lead back to 11.

The Pacers stretched the lead to 15, only to have Boston cut it
to 10 with 3 minutes left. That's when O'Neal got a little feisty.
O'Neal thought he was fouled by Tony Battie on a basket, and tossed
his headband into the stands when there was no call.

O'Neal was hit with a technical foul and Indiana's lead was down
to nine.

But O'Neal, who made 13 of 14 free throws, converted a
three-point play to make it 109-97 with less than a minute left.

Walker hit a 3, but Boston would never get closer and lost its
third straight.

After scoring 32 points in the second half against the Pistons,
Boston bounced back with 52 in the first half on 46 percent
shooting.

Still, the Celtics trailed 58-52 at halftime. The Pacers
outrebounded Boston 28-21 in the first half which led to a 13-3
advantage on second-chance points.

"They hurt us on the interior," Pierce said. "Those are two
All-Stars right there. If you want to beat the Indiana Pacers, it
starts with stopping them."

The advantage underneath was no surprise to O'Neal, who said
Boston's long-range shooting (10-for-28 3-pointers) led to plenty
of chances.

"We needed a total effort, even from the guards, to get the
long rebounds," he said.

The Pacers also used a 25-7 run that turned an eight-point
deficit into a 10-point lead.

Game notes
Mercer was whistled for a technical foul in the first
quarter. ... The Pacers had their third sellout of the season. ...
Reggie Miller's rebounds were a season high. ... The Celtics had
won four straight against the Pacers. ... The Pacers are 13-9
against teams with winning records.

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