Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 1/5

Game 1: Monday, January 5th
Game 2: Sunday, February 8th
Game 3: Sunday, March 28th

Heat 80

(35-38, 10-26 away)

Pacers 87

(54-19, 29-7 home)

    Coverage: FSMW

    5:00 PM ET, March 28, 2004

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 19 21 25 1580
    IND 25 25 20 1787

    Top Performers

    Mia: D. Wade 14 Pts, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Ind: J. O'Neal 23 Pts, 14 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 4 Blk

    O'Neal notches double-double on return

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal proved his knee was strong enough to carry the Indiana Pacers to victory Sunday night.

    The All-Star forward returned from an injury and had 23 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks to lead the Pacers to an 87-80 win over the Miami Heat.

    "I give a lot of credit to Jermaine O'Neal for stepping in there and playing today," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "His knee is better but it's still a little sore, and it's tough to come in there after missing a couple of games."

    O'Neal made the start for Indiana after missing the past two games with a bruised left knee, injured in a win over the Chicago Bulls last Monday. O'Neal played 35 minutes, scoring 10 points in the third quarter.

    "I didn't shoot as well as I wanted," said O'Neal, who finished 8-of-21 from the field. "I think it's rust. Hopefully, it'll come with a day of practice and these two games with Milwaukee."

    Caron Butler, Eddie Jones and Dwyane Wade each scored 14 points for the Heat, which had their seven-game winning streak end.

    Ron Artest added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the NBA-leading Pacers despite having to leave the game briefly with a sprained right ankle.

    Artest was later hit in the face going up for a rebound in a physical game in which the teams combined for 49 fouls, including four technicals and two flagrants. Artest will have his nose examined Monday to see if it's broken.

    "They play hard: we go hard," said Artest, who also finished with six steals and four assists. "We just had to keep going to the basket.

    "I didn't play the best, but we won."

    Miami committed five fouls in the first eight minutes, while the Pacers made their first seven shots from the foul line and finished 34-for-43 for the game. The Heat committed 11 turnovers in the first half, which the Pacers quickly converted into 15 points.

    "The fact that they're the most physical defensive team in the league and never foul, that's a helluva team," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It wasn't me being upset about the fouls called on us. I just thought we were attacking pretty darned good, too.

    "We'll have to look (at the film). Their technique must be great because they lean on you and never foul."

    Indiana, which shot 43 percent from the field and 67 percent from 3-point range in the first half, led 50-40 at halftime after leading by as many as 16 points. But the Heat opened the third quarter on a 9-4 run to pull within 54-51 with 6:57 left and held the Pacers to 27 percent shooting in the second half.

    "It felt like the score was just stuck for about three or four minutes," Butler said. "Neither of us could score. That really hurt us at the end."

    Wade's bucket five minutes later gave Miami its first tie, 65-all, since early in the first quarter.

    The Pacers countered with a 6-2 run of their own in the fourth quarter, capped by Reggie Miller's 3-pointer with 3:34 left to put them up 83-78 and on top for good.

    "That possession where Ron went in and kicked it back out to Jamaal (Tinsley), and he went back into Ron, back to Jamaal and out to Reggie, who hit that 3 which put us up by nine, was probably the most important possession of the game," Carlisle said.

    Al Harrington, who started in O'Neal's absence, added nine points off the bench for Indiana.

    "I thought we did a pretty good job of fighting in the second half," Jones said. "We just wish we could have played a little bit better. They're a tough team, but we're right there with them, and we feel like we can do some things."

    Game notes

    Van Gundy was called for a technical foul at 5:41 in the third quarter. ... Artest drew the biggest reaction from the home crowd of 17,284, missing a wide open, one-handed dunk try with his heavily bandaged left hand in the first quarter. Artest has been hampered by a sprain to his left thumb for much of the season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 80 87
    FGM-FGA 30-77 (.390) 24-68 (.353)
    3PM-3PA 7-16 (.438) 5-15 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 13-17 (.765) 34-43 (.791)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-43 11-47
    Assists 22 19
    Turnovers 15 14
    Steals 5 9
    Blocks 8 6
    Fast Break Points 3 1
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 30 (2/1) 19 (1/1)

    Top Performers

    Dwyane Wade Wade
    Points: 14
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 23
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 4