INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- With four major stars missing from Monday
night's game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Indiana Pacers, it
didn't figure to be a pretty contest.
It wasn't, but the Pacers proved to be better without Jermaine
O'Neal than the Lakers were minus Shaquille O'Neal.
Ron Artest had 24 points, seven rebounds and four assists and Al
Harrington added 16 points to lead the Pacers to an 85-72 win over
the Lakers on Monday night.
"It's a quality win, Shaq or no Shaq," Pacers coach Rick
Shaquille O'Neal was suspended for one game without pay by the
NBA earlier Monday, one day after using obscene language and
publicly criticizing officials during a television interview
following the Lakers' win over Toronto.
"When a guy like Shaquille O'Neal doesn't play, you're worried
you won't get up, but we were solid," Carlisle said.
Jermaine O'Neal missed the game after straining his neck in
Saturday's win over Boston.
The Lakers were also without injured stars Kobe Bryant and Karl
Malone. That, essentially, left Gary Payton to take on the team
with the most wins in the NBA.
He wasn't up to the task. Payton went 1-for-8 in the first half
and the Lakers went 7:18 without a field goal in the second quarter
to fall behind 41-26 at half.
Payton finished with 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Stanislav
Medvedenko, who had 14 points, was the only other Laker in double
"We missed too many shots, including myself," Payton said.
The Pacers countered with four players in double figures, a
balance that was too much for the Lakers to overcome.
Artest attempted a career-high 27 shots and Austin Croshere came
up with eight big fourth-quarter points to help compensate for the
loss of Jermaine O'Neal.
"Everybody here steps it up when somebody is out," Artest
said. "When you lose an offense like J.O., you don't try to
replace it, you just play aggressive and play the game the right
way to win."
During the morning shootaround, Los Angeles planned to take
advantage of Jermaine O'Neal's absence by going down low to
Shaquille O'Neal early and often. But Lakers coach Phil Jackson
found out late that his star center would not be available.
Without him, the Lakers turned in one of their worst offensive
performances of the season. Their 72 points, 34.7 percent shooting
and 26 first-half points were all easily season lows.
"There's a reason why Indiana's where they're at," Jackson
said. "They contest shots and hit your arm on shots and the
referees look by it. It's all part of their defensive prowess. We
weren't ready for it. We should've been."
With "rally towels" in hand, the sellout crowd came to Conseco
Fieldhouse hoping to see a star-studded game between two of the
best teams in the league.
Instead, they saw a game devoid of flow and laden with fouls and
missed shots. The lackadaisical Pacers allowed the Lakers to hang
around with some defensive breakdowns and stagnant offense in the
"We competed, but we still need big fella," Payton said of
Shaquille O'Neal. "If he was here, it probably would've been a
different story. We just have to keep playing and get through this
The Pacers were just 7-for-15 from the free throw line and,
despite their point totals, Artest and Harrington combined to shoot
16-for-45 from the field.
The Lakers used an 8-0 run early in the fourth quarter to pull
within 69-60, but Croshere hit a 3-pointer and Harrington's jumper
pushed the lead back to 76-62 with just under seven minutes to
"They hit some 3s, which is what we couldn't do," Jackson
Los Angeles never got any closer and Croshere, who scored 12
points and had nine rebounds, sealed the Pacers' third straight win
with a nifty reverse layup.<
^Notes@ Lakers' G Kareem Rush sprained his ankle, but Jackson said
the injury wasn't serious. ... Pacers' G Reggie Miller's layup in
the first quarter gave him 24,001 points for his career. ...
Jackson said F Rick Fox would have started against the Pacers were
it not for Shaquille O'Neal's suspension. ... Pacers G Fred Jones
got a technical for taunting in the second quarter after dunking on
Medvedenko and staring him down.