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Indiana swingman solid after ejection

12/10/2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Ron Artest didn't let any bad feelings carry
over from his first ejection of the season.

Artest, who was ejected from Sunday's game against Sacramento
for arguing an offensive foul call, bounced back with 16 points,
nine assists and seven rebounds Tuesday night to lead the Indiana
Pacers to a 93-79 win over the Washington Wizards.

"We got the ball in Ron's hands and he made plays and scored
when he had to," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "He really had
a fine, fine all-around game."

After having 12 behavior-related suspensions last season, Artest
hadn't been whistled for a technical foul this season before the
Sacramento game.

He played a team-high 44 minutes against Washington and was one
of four Pacers with six field goals.

Carlisle said Artest's performance was especially significant
because Jermaine O'Neal was battling a stomach ailment. O'Neal felt
sick before the game, but still managed 15 points and nine
rebounds.

"If there was any way possible I didn't want to go too many
minutes with him," Carlisle said. "Ron's play tonight facilitated
that for us."

The Pacers, coming off a rugged five-game West Coast road trip,
held a 22-point lead early in the fourth quarter before the Wizards
used a 14-2 run to pull to 83-73.

That prompted Carlisle to bring back four of his five starters,
and the Wizards never got any closer.

Washington continued to struggle to find offense without Jerry
Stackhouse and Gilbert Arenas in the lineup. Both are on the
injured list, Arenas with an abdominal strain and Stackhouse with a
right knee injury.

"For the last five minutes there, I thought I was going to have
to change some diapers," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "All of
our guys were under 22 playing against their starters. It was past
their bedtime."

Kwame Brown led the Wizards with 17 points and seven rebounds,
and Larry Hughes added 16 points and five rebounds.

Al Harrington chipped in 13 points and nine rebounds for
Indiana.

The Pacers took a 43-36 lead at halftime despite shooting just
38 percent from the field, then made 52 percent of their attempts
in the third quarter to take control.

They also dominated on the boards, outrebounding Washington
45-31.

"Getting beat on the boards like we did, there's nothing that
you can really balance that out with in another area because
rebounds do so many things," Hughes said. "We just have to
rebound better."

Christian Laettner scored six straight points to bring the
Wizards within 11 at the end of the third quarter.

Artest responded with a nifty between-the-legs dribble into the
lane before finding Austin Croshere in the corner for a 3-pointer
that gave Indiana a 70-56 lead.

Indiana played without reserve point guard Anthony Johnson, who
missed his second straight game due to an abdominal strain.

Johnson has been a key player for Indiana off the bench,
splitting time with starter Kenny Anderson and averaging 7.5 points
and 2.7 assists.

It didn't matter Tuesday night, as the deep Pacers overwhelmed
the Wizards with experience and toughness inside.

"We're all pretty much young guys and we're playing hard,"
Hughes said. "But we have to play better."

Game notes
Wizards reserve forward Jared Jeffries got a nice ovation
when he entered the game midway through the first quarter. Jeffries
was the Indiana High School Mr. Basketball in 2000 and led the
Hoosiers to the NCAA finals in 2002. He scored five points in 16
minutes. ... Carlisle deemed his team's road trip a success,
despite the 2-3 record. The Pacers lost close games at Sacramento
and Portland and won two games without Artest, against Seattle and
Phoenix, which Carlisle called the highlight of the trip.