INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Ron Artest has never heard an Indiana crowd
boo so loudly.
He couldn't even recall the hated Detroit Pistons getting as
rude a reception as he received from Pacers fans on Friday night.
In the end, Pacers fans were cheering. Artest shot poorly in his
return to Indiana as the Pacers beat the Sacramento Kings 98-93.
Artest was playing in Indianapolis for the first time since his
trade request was granted and he was sent to the Kings for Peja
Stojakovic seven weeks ago. Artest scored 18 points, but shot
6-for-22 from the field, including 2-for-14 in the second half.
He was booed during pregame introductions, and that continued
every time he touched the ball.
"If there was a fight between the fans who loved me or booed
me, I think the boos would have won."
"I just told Ron he shouldn't feel bad," Jackson said. "They
boo me, and I play here. I don't think it bothered him. If they'll
boo me, they'll boo anybody."
The fans saved their loudest pregame cheers for Stojakovic, who
had 20 points and 12 rebounds to help the Pacers snap the Kings'
five-game winning streak.
The crowd reaction didn't bother Artest, but his shooting did.
"I missed a lot of layups," he said. "I was right there at
the bucket and I missed layups. So that was pretty much it. I
missed a ton of layups, a ton of layups."
Artest said his former teammates treated him better than the
"There was a lot of love, you know, fives and daps, good luck,
that sort of thing," he said.
Artest's return overshadowed Danny Granger's career night. The
rookie forward, who Artest has compared to a young Scottie Pippen,
scored 23 points. Artest was impressed with the youngster he took
under his wing during training camp.
"He played good," Artest said. "He played real smart tonight.
He's probably one of the better players on the team right now."
Reserve point guard Jamaal Tinsley added 20 points for Indiana
Mike Bibby led the Kings (33-32) with 22 points and Brad Miller,
who also played for the Pacers, added 17.
Sacramento led 52-41 at halftime, but the Pacers made 10 of
their first 12 shots in the second half and took their first lead
on Granger's jumper with 3:38 left in the third quarter that made
the score 68-66.
Artest shot 1-for-7 in the third quarter, but Kevin Martin
scored 10 points to help the Kings take a 76-75 lead at the end of
The Pacers took the lead for good on Granger's jumper with 4:28
left. Tinsley scored six points in the last 3:35 to help the Pacers
stay in control.
The Kings made their first six shots to take a 13-4 lead and
force an Indiana timeout. They made two more before their first
miss with 6:46 left in the first quarter.
Artest scored his first basket with 7:42 left in the first
quarter and drained a 3-pointer a minute later. Sacramento shot 70
percent in the first quarter and led 36-20 at the end of the
The Kings' shooting touch disappeared in the second quarter and
allowed the Pacers to climb back into the game.
Bonzi Wells was called for a flagrant penalty 1 when he pulled
Granger's jersey while Granger went in for a dunk late in the
second quarter. Granger laid on the ground for a while before
making two free throws, then scoring on a mid-range jumper over
Artest on the ensuing possession to cut Sacramento's lead to 45-41
with 2:09 left in the half.
Artest scored on a layup with 4.7 seconds left in the half to
give the Kings a 52-41 lead at the break.
Artest said his primary concern Friday night was losing the
"I was more disappointed that we lost as a team as opposed to
playing poorly," he said. "We just have to move on and get
better. The big thing is we should have won this game."
Indiana point guard Sarunas Jasikevicius has played just
two seconds the last three games with Tinsley back from an elbow
injury. Jasikevicius played well enough this season to make the
rookie challenge. ... Stojakovic averaged 16.5 in 31 games with
Sacramento, but entered the game against his former team averaging
20.2 points for the Pacers. ... Miller was cheered during pregame