Artest's teammates swarmed to help him up and coach Rick
Carlisle rushed off the bench to try and prevent an altercation.
"I think last year's Ron would have probably took out a couple
of fans in the front row," teammate Reggie Miller said.
There was no need for concern. Artest calmly got up and sank a
couple of free throws.
Jermaine O'Neal added 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers,
whose 13-point first-quarter lead turned into a five-point deficit
entering the fourth quarter.
But Artest and O'Neal led the Pacers on an 18-4 run while
improving to 4-0 on the road.
Indiana rallied from the start of the fourth quarter, getting a
3-pointer from Miller to tie it, then Artest followed with a 3 on
the next possession for a 69-66 lead.
On the next possession, Artest drove down the baseline from the
left side with his left arm fully extended when Coleman collided
with him under the basket.
Artest crashed hard to the floor in pain because he chipped his
tooth -- the same tooth he cracked last season in Game 6 against
Boston. There was reason to think the incident might escalate into
something more -- Artest led the league in flagrant-foul points a
year ago and lost more than $250,000 in salary.
This year, Artest is flagrant free.
"He's a year older, a year wiser," coach Rick Carlisle said.
"The guy's showing me he's putting the team ahead of any other
things that might be going on."
Artest's free throws gave Indiana a 71-66 lead. Later, he hit
another 3 for an 80-70 lead and the Pacers cruised to their first
"Tonight is an indication of the new and improved Ron," Miller
Artest brushed off the incident, and said Coleman was just
playing his role as the Sixers' enforcer. Even if others notice a
difference, Artest said he hasn't changed his approach.
"I'm just having fun," Artest said. "A couple of things were
blown out of proportion. I'm just here to play basketball."
Allen Iverson scored 37 points for the Sixers, who were
scoreless in the first six minutes of the fourth and scored only 10
points in the quarter.
Philadelphia's frontline didn't have the height or the strength
to compete with the big-bodied Pacers. Indiana outrebounded
Philadelphia 45-29 and no Sixers player had more than six rebounds.
O'Neal shot 10-for-19 for the floor, scoring most of his baskets on
"That's something we've got to go back and work on and be more
consistent in that area," Sixers coach Randy Ayers said. "We've
got to defend and rebound the ball to be competitive."
It was a different result in the third when the Sixers, behind
Iverson, shot 59 percent in the quarter.
Iverson scored 13 points in the third on 5-for-7 shooting,
rallying Philadelphia from a 13-point first quarter deficit. He
broke down Indiana's defense -- proving much too quick for Miller --
and led the charge on the fastbreak.
Iverson also settled in nicely on the left wing where he hit the
jumpers that gave the Sixers the lead entering the fourth quarter.
His 3-pointer as time expired in the quarter gave the Sixers a
Then it all fell apart.
"Once we got the lead, we kind of relaxed a little bit,"
Iverson said. "We didn't keep fighting. We didn't try to finish
Iverson, who finished 15-for-30 from the floor, had little
offensive help. Samuel Dalembert and Coleman each had 10 points.
Artest's career high is 32 points last season. ... Jackson
started in place of Kenny Thomas, who sat out with a lower back
injury. ... Iverson had a steal in his 31st straight game, the
longest active streak in the league. ... Robinson had five rebounds
and reached the 4,000 for his career. ... Dalembert added a
career-high five blocked shots.
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