Artest has eight steals in victory

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers were just fine without
Jermaine O'Neal.

Ron Artest had 20 points, eight steals and eight rebounds and
Jeff Foster added 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Pacers to a
103-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night.

The Pacers outrebounded Dallas 29-16 in the second half and kept
their composure while the Mavericks came unglued to improve to 3-0
in games without O'Neal this season.

O'Neal bruised his left knee in Monday's win over Chicago. The
team's leading scorer and rebounder said he expects to miss at
least two games, but he hopes to be back for Sunday's game against

Dallas was missing a star of its own. Michael Finley, the team's
second-leading scorer, did not dress because of a strained right

The Pacers used their superior depth to their advantage, getting
solid contributions from Austin Croshere and Al Harrington to fill
O'Neal's void.

Harrington had 17 points and eight rebounds and Croshere
dominated the fourth quarter. Croshere scored 11 of his 16 points
in an eight-minute span of the final period to lift the NBA-leading
Pacers (52-19).

His 3-pointer with 4:15 to play gave Indiana a 92-84 lead.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 22 points, 13 of which came in the
final 5:30 to help the Mavericks mounted a comeback. He hit a
jumper and a 3-pointer and Shawn Bradley added a baseline jumper to
bring Dallas to 97-95 with 45 seconds to play.

Reggie Miller, who was just 3-for-8 shooting in the game,
answered with a 3-pointer from the corner with 23.7 seconds left to
put the game out of reach. Miller finished with 16 points.

The Mavericks shot 54 percent in the first half to jump out to a
55-48 lead, but couldn't hold onto the advantage or their cool in
the second half.

The officials issued nine technical fouls in the game and
ejected Dallas center Scott Williams in the third quarter.

Referee Ron Garretson showed a short fuse all evening, giving
Dallas five technicals -- two on Williams and one each on Nowitzki,
assistant coach Del Harris and Bradley.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and point guard Jamaal Tinsley also
picked up technical fouls.

Williams drew his first technical at 10:07 of the third quarter
after picking up a foul on the defensive end. He continued to jaw
at Garretson on the Mavericks' ensuing possession and received his
second technical, which brought the ejection, after Nowitzki was
whistled for an offensive foul.

Bradley also got a technical for arguing in the quarter and
while Williams and Bradley were busy arguing with Garretson, the
Pacers mounted a 14-6 run. Indiana outscored Dallas 31-19 in the
period to take a 79-74 lead.

Steve Nash had 13 points and 14 assists and Antoine Walker and
Antawn Jamison each scored 15 for Dallas.
^Notes:@ The Pacers placed G/F Jonathan Bender on the injured list
with a strained right shoulder. With O'Neal on the bench for the
next few games, the Pacers activated C Primoz Brezec to add more
depth to the front court. ... NBA commissioner David Stern attended
the game.


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