INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Hammered over the last four days for their
involvement in an ugly brawl with Detroit fans, the Indiana Pacers
and their fans finally have something to feel good about.
Artest was banned for the season, Jackson for 30 games and
O'Neal for 25 for fighting with fans in Friday night's game against
the Detroit Pistons.
Against the Celtics, a ragtag group of role players and
journeymen fed off a raucous home crowd to pull out an improbable
"Our heart is a little sore with our three best players not
with us," said Fred Jones, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds. "I
think the fans filled that void."
The Pacers did all the little things to win, and the hometown
fans loved every minute of it.
The Pacers outrebounded Boston 45-33 and made 31 of 33 free
"In a lot of cities, people just come to see stars," coach
Rick Carlisle said. "But in this city, people come to watch the
game of basketball, and they love it. It just means so much to us
as a franchise to get this kind of support in the situation we're
Paul Pierce led the Celtics with 20 points, but shot just
6-of-14 from the field.
Celtics coach Doc Rivers said he put a checklist on the board
before the game.
"In talent, we win that battle. In skill, we win that battle.
In continuity, because we've been together longer, we win that
battle," Rivers said. "I'll take the blame. When your talent is
better, you should never lose a game. They out-scrapped us."
With several Pacers' wearing Jackson's and O'Neal's arm bands,
they delivered a total team performance.
The determined bunch dove for loose balls, made the extra pass
and knocked down free throws, giving their beleaguered fans
something to cheer after being bombarded by replays of their team's
involvement in one of the ugliest instances of player-fan violence
in U.S. sports history.
When Fred Jones poked a pass away and fed Tinsley for a layup
and a 12-point lead in the third quarter, the crowd roared its
approval, giving a standing ovation to their undermanned charges.
Tinsley was brilliant in his return after missing Saturday's
game with a wrist injury sustained in the brawl at Detroit.
He attacked the basket relentlessly, scoring seven straight
points for the Pacers late in the second quarter to help them to a
50-47 halftime lead.
When Tinsley wasn't scoring, he slipped several nice passes into
the paint to set up layups or dunks.
"I really didn't know if I was going to play or not," Tinsley
said. "But then I said to myself, 'I've got to do something to
help my teammates win some ball games."
Pierce finally got going for Boston in the third quarter,
hitting a 3-pointer, a jumper and two free throws to key an 18-5
Celtics run, and the teams started the fourth tied at 72.
But Tinsley refused to let Indiana waste another spirited effort
after six healthy and eligible Pacers lost by just three points to
Orlando on Saturday.
He had a dazzling spin move on a driving layup, then set up two
more layups by Scot Pollard and James Jones for an 89-80 lead.
James Jones then sealed the win with a 3-pointer that gave the
Pacers a 98-86 lead and their fans a much-needed reason to cheer.
Gary Payton had 14 points and eight assists for Boston.
"To me, this is one of the toughest losses I've ever been
associated with," Pierce said. "Hopefully we can take it out on
Philadelphia (Wednesday) night."
Tinsley was involved in two tension-filled moments in the
He got tangled up with Pierce and the two jawed and exchanged
love taps. Then Tinsley was fouled hard by Ricky Davis on a
breakaway. Each time, the Pacers calmed each other down, refusing
to have a repeat of the events that triggered Friday's brawl.
"I can just picture Ronnie, Jermaine and Jack watching the game
and jumping for joy," James Jones said, "Just like we were on the
court and just like the fans were tonight."
In a show of support, Indianapolis Colts players Mike Doss
and Marcus Pollard brought a box of Artest jerseys to practice
Tuesday and handed them out to teammates. "I don't agree with what
Ron Artest did, but for the guy to miss a whole year and not get
paid, I don't like it," Pollard said. ... Tinsley got a technical
foul at 3:11 of the second when he winged the ball in referee Scott
Wall's direction. ... The Celtics are 3-14 in their last 16 trips
to Indiana. ... Pierce got a technical for arguing at 8:54 of the
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