Quietly, Ron Artest was high scorer again for the Pacers.
Artest's three-point play with 11 seconds left lifted the
Indiana Pacers to a 91-90 victory over James and the winless
Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
"That's the main thing, to hit the ones that count," Artest
Artest's play brought the sellout crowd to its feet and spoiled
a strong performance by James, who missed a driving layup with five
seconds to go and then a putback as time expired.
That allowed the lethargic Pacers to escape with a win, one
night after grinding out an emotional victory in New Jersey.
"I thought our team was emotionally and physically tired and
just found a way to hang in there," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
James finished with 23 points -- two short of his career high --
and had five rebounds, but turned the ball over seven times in the
Despite missing two shots to win the game, the rookie's athletic
ability left a big impression on the Pacers.
"He's a tremendous young player," Carlisle said. "Some of the
things he's doing are breathtaking."
Artest finished with 21 points and Jermaine O'Neal had 14 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks for the Pacers, who won their
O'Neal sprained his right ankle in the closing moments, however,
and was listed as day-to-day. The Pacers play Philadelphia on
The Cavs appeared to be on their way to the their first win of
the season when DeSagana Diop banked in a short jumper with 26.7
seconds remaining to give Cleveland a 90-88 lead.
"Statistically, they beat us everywhere but the score,"
Carlisle said. "Sometimes it comes down to passion more than X's
On the ensuing possession, Artest took the ball and drove strong
down the lane, drawing the foul as his scoop shot dropped through
the basket. He then converted the free throw for the one-point
James then missed the layup, and the Cavaliers failed to convert
a flurry of attempts to tip the ball in as time expired.
"I had a great look," James said. "I got a great tip on it
and I thought it was going."
Carlos Boozer added 20 points and nine rebounds for the Cavs,
who played with much more vigor after coach Paul Silas criticized
their listlessness in Thursday night's loss to Denver.
"The reason we came out with so much energy and so much fight
was that coach got on us," Darius Miles said. "Now we don't have
nothing to lose. We're just going to keep playing hard."
Reggie Miller scored 15 points, including three 3-pointers, for
James, the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, had better luck against
the Pacers than his friend Carmelo Anthony, who shot 1-for-13 from
the field in Denver's loss to Indiana on Tuesday.
After disappearing in the second half Wednesday night in his
home debut against Anthony, Cleveland coach Paul Silas urged James
to be more aggressive offensively late in the game.
Clearly, James was paying attention.
The Cavaliers entered the final period trailing 74-69. But James
scored seven points in a two-minute span to help Cleveland tie the
game at 82.
"I felt good, I was hitting my shots and my free throws," said
James, who shot 8-for-18 from the floor.
Artest capped a strong second half in which he scored 13 points
and helped the Pacers keep winning.
"Everybody seems to be taking a turn stepping up big," said
Anthony Johnson, whose two 3-pointers lifted Indiana over New
Jersey on Thursday night. "When we hit the dead tempo tonight,
(Artest) was able to bring us out of it."
Game Notes: Cleveland's Ricky Davis just missed a triple-double with
nine points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. ... Six players who made
the jump from high school to the NBA were present. James, Diop and
Miles did it for Cleveland, along with Indiana's O'Neal, Al
Harrington and Jonathan Bender, who was inactive with a knee
injury. ... Helped by James and their own fast start, the Pacers
had their first sellout of the season.