Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 4)

Series starts 11/6

Game 1: Thursday, November 6th
Game 2: Saturday, December 27th
Game 3: Saturday, January 17th
Game 4: Friday, April 9th

Pacers 90

(31-11, 15-7 away)

Nets 84

(21-17, 12-8 home)

    8:00 PM ET, January 17, 2004

    IZOD Center, East Rutherford, NJ

    1 2 3 4 T
    IND 20 25 18 2790
    NJ 23 32 19 1084

    Top Performers

    Ind: J. O'Neal 20 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

    NJ: J. Kidd 21 Pts, 8 Reb, 13 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    New Jersey held to 29 second-half points

    EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Besides talent and depth, the Indiana Pacers have something else that might eventually end the New Jersey Nets' two-year run as Eastern Conference champions -- defense.

    Jermaine O'Neal had 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Pacers held the Nets to 29 second-half points for a 90-84 victory Saturday night in a matchup of division leaders.

    "Our offense wasn't going but defensively, we were tough tonight, especially in the fourth quarter," said Ron Artest, who added 18 points and a big block in the fourth quarter. "I could say they played horrible but I've got to give us some credit."

    The Pacers should take all the credit. They limited New Jersey to 9-for-34 shooting from the field in the second half and forced 13 turnovers, including big ones by Kenyon Martin and Jason Kidd with the game on the line.

    "We completely shut down," Martin said. "We didn't have as much movement in the second half as we did in the first. Basically, we gave the game away by not running the offense."

    Indiana limited New Jersey to 10 fourth-quarter points -- one off the team record-low -- in overcoming an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit. The triumph also gave the Pacers wins over the Nets and San Antonio Spurs -- the teams that met for the NBA title -- on consecutive nights.

    Al Harrington added 15 points and 12 rebounds and Reggie Miller, who scored 28 in the win over San Antonio, sealed the Pacers' 10th win in 11 games with four free throws and a steal in the final minute.

    "On nights when you struggle offensively, your defense has to hold you in it," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "It came down to a free-throw game."

    Kidd had 21 points, 13 assists and eight rebounds in a 45-minute night, but only two assists and two rebounds came in the final quarter. Richard Jefferson had 14 -- all in the first half.

    "We just couldn't hit a shot," Jefferson said. "I mean they had a good defensive effort, but we just couldn't hit a shot."

    Kidd hit two 3-pointers and had an assist in a 13-2 spurt that gave New Jersey a 74-63 lead entering the final quarter.

    When O'Neal picked up his fifth foul in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, New Jersey seemed in good shape. But the Pacers came back by hitting four 3-pointers and limiting the Nets to just three baskets in the opening 11 minutes.

    Rodney Rogers' basket with 8:59 gave New Jersey a 78-73.

    Anthony Johnson got Indiana within 78-76 with 6:33 left with a 3-pointer and Jamaal Tinsley gave the Pacers the lead with another 3 with 6:02 to play.

    There was little scoring over the next four minutes. Artest stretched the lead to 81-78 with two free throws with 4:04 to go. Kerry Kittles got New Jersey within one with a layup with 2:45 to go.

    On a play set up by Artest's block on Jefferson, Tinsley made it 82-80 by hitting a free throw with 1:49 left.

    Martin and Kidd had turnovers on the next two possessions and the Nets missed a chance to take the lead when Jefferson missed on a 3-pointer.

    O'Neal hit a 14-footer for an 84-80 lead with 29 seconds left.

    The game had all the intensity of a playoff game, with the usually half-empty Continental Airlines Arena almost filled to capacity.

    It was physical, too. Artest sprained his left thumb running into a pick in the second quarter. Martin came close to losing his cool when low-bridged by Jeff Foster in the third quarter, and Harrington and Rogers exchanged strangleholds on attempted layups at different points in the game.

    Kidd pushed the ball upcourt at will in the first half in helping the Nets take a 55-45 lead. New Jersey outscored Indiana 15-0 on the fastbreak and 30-14 in the paint.

    Game notes

    The Nets 55 first-half points were just two shy of being the most scored against the Pacers in a half. ...Indiana is now 15-7 on the road and 21-6 vs. East. ...Kidd's son, T.J., wore a Martin jersey and headband in serving as a pre-game ballboy. ...The loss snapped a four-game home winning streak and was only the second in 12 games at home for New Jersey.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 90 84
    FGM-FGA 30-74 (.405) 30-76 (.395)
    3PM-3PA 7-21 (.333) 5-17 (.294)
    FTM-FTA 23-25 (.920) 19-27 (.704)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-42 13-39
    Assists 15 20
    Turnovers 17 18
    Steals 10 9
    Blocks 6 3
    Fast Break Points 1 7
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 24 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    New Jersey
    Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 20
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 2
    Jason Kidd Kidd
    Points: 21
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 13
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1