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Mavericks are handed their third home loss

1/10/2004

DALLAS (AP) -- The Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers used
a Western Conference-style uptempo offense to beat the Dallas
Mavericks at their own game Friday night.

Ron Artest scored 26 points to help the Pacers stretch their
winning streak to seven games and improve the NBA's best record
with a 92-80 victory over the Mavericks.

Al Harrington and Jermaine O'Neal added 16 points each, and
Jamaal Tinsley had 11 points and 12 assists for the Pacers (28-10).

Indiana's uptempo offense produced a 25-4 edge in fast-break
points, while defensively the Pacers held the Mavericks' starters
to 42 points.

"We were more aggressive offensively," Pacers coach Rick
Carlisle said. "You have to be when you play this team."

Dallas started the night with a 16-2 home mark, second-best in
the league to Sacramento's 18-2.

The Mavericks were outrebounded 54-41 and shot only 36.8 percent
(32-for-87) from the field. Dallas started the night averaging
102.3 points, second in the league to Sacramento's 105.

"A lot of it was their defense," Mavericks coach Don Nelson
said. "We couldn't get where we wanted and the openings we wanted.
And then they block shots in the open court."

Dirk Nowitzki's 20 points led the Mavericks, but he had only
five in the second half. Antawn Jamison had 19 points and Shawn
Bradley added a season-high 12 for the Mavericks, held to a
season-low points total at home.

"To lose a game on offense is new for us," said Nowitzki, who
missed 13 of his last 14 shots. "I don't know what to say. It was
a brutal offensive performance."

Dallas starters Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Steve Nash, Antoine
Walker and Danny Fortson missed 31 shots in the second half before
Walker's putback with 2:56 to play.

The Mavericks held a 50-46 lead early in the third quarter
before the Pacers went on a 9-0 run as part of a 23-6 spurt to
build a 13-point edge.

Artest had a steal and dunk to draw the Pacers even at 50, then
Tinsley hit a 3-pointer to give Indiana its first lead of the
night. Artest completed the 23-6 run with a 3-pointer for a 69-56
advantage with 3:21 left in the third quarter.

The Pacers carried a 69-63 lead into the fourth quarter in part
by shutting down the Mavericks' uptempo offense.

"For the last two days, transition defense is all we've talked
about," Carlisle said. "We wanted to get back and find their
shooter at the halfcourt line. We had good effort in that area."

The Mavericks got as close as 75-69 with 8:39 left on Bradley's
dunk. But the Pacers responded with a 9-0 run capped by Artest's
dunk with 4:22 remaining for an 84-69 edge, closing out the
Mavericks.

Dallas got off to an 11-0 start, hitting five of its first six
shots while Indiana was missing its first seven.

But the Pacers rallied with a 15-5 run and narrowed the
Mavericks' lead to 26-23 after one quarter.

The Mavericks clung to a 46-44 halftime lead, but Artest had 17
points and six rebounds in the first half and his defense held
Finley to 1-of-5 shooting.

"We were a little flat coming out and we missed a few shots,"
said Artest, who pulled down 11 rebounds. "We stayed focused
because we knew we'd get back in the game with our defense."

Game notes
Indiana pushed its road record to 14-6. ... Bradley had
missed 10 of the previous 12 games due to back spasms. Soon after
entering in the second quarter, he tracked down a loose ball, then
passed to Nowitzki for a layup. Bradley had four points, a blocked
shot, a rebound, a steal and an assist in 6{ minutes. ... The
Pacers lost six of their previous nine meetings with the Mavericks.