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Players-only meeting said to inspire Raptors

12/20/2001

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Toronto Raptors held a players-only team
meeting this week in an attempt to snap out of a slump.

For one game at least, they found the right formula.

Morris Peterson matched his career high with 29 points as
Raptors snapped a four-game losing streak with a 102-90 victory
over Indiana on Wednesday night.

Alvin Williams also set a career best with 24 points and Vince
Carter had 23 for the Raptors, who played without center Hakeem
Olajuwon (swollen toe) and guard Chris Childs (sore right ankle).

Toronto led by four with under a minute remaining when Peterson
rushed a 3-point attempt as the shot clock wound down. Peterson was
fouled by Jamaal Tinsley, then sank all three free throws.

Pacers coach Isiah Thomas argued the call, was called for a
technical foul and ejected. Peterson remained at the line and made
the free throw to make it 98-90.

On the ensuing possession, Tinsley had his pass stolen by
Williams, who sank both free throws to clinch the victory.

Carter said Monday's meeting helped the Raptors pinpoint what
they were doing wrong.

"If we didn't have the team meeting, we probably wouldn't have
gotten this done," he said. "We did get a lot of things accomplished. We were communicating. We were staying tough."

Reggie Miller was called for a flagrant foul after pushing Keon
Clark out of bounds with 5.6 seconds to go. Toronto's Antonio Davis
also was called for a flagrant foul. Peterson, Miller and Indiana's
Jermaine O'Neal received technicals.

Davis was called for his after a hard foul on O'Neal in the
third. O'Neal was facing the basket and jumped for a rebound. Davis
came over O'Neal's back and hit him in the face with a forearm.

After O'Neal made one of two free throws, the Pacers led 72-68,
but Toronto narrowed the gap to 76-74 at the end of three.

O'Neal led the Pacers with a season-high 27 points and 16
rebounds, and Miller had 19 points.

O'Neal said the officials determined the game and showed little
respect to the Pacers.

"When that keeps happening, you lose your composure," he said.
"Every time we got ready to bust the game open or make a move,
they made a call. It was unbelievable."

Peterson snapped a tie game, when he came flying through the
paint undefended to put back a miss and give the Raptors an 82-80
lead. A basket by O'Neal cut it to 90-88 with 2:20 remaining, but
Davis and Williams scored consecutive baskets to push the lead to
94-88.

"I think what you saw out there was a different team compared
to what we've been like so far," Peterson said.

Indiana's Jalen Rose, who scored 10 points, hit a turnaround
jumper with 1:02 left to make it 94-40. But the Raptors would go on
to score the final eight points.

Even without Olajuwon, the Raptors held a 47-40 rebounding edge,
with Clark grabbing 11 and Jerome Williams 10.

Carter, who played about 5 minutes at point guard in the second
quarter, scored 17 points in the first half for a 50-47 Toronto
lead.

Carter said the players realized during the meeting they were
the only ones responsible for losing six of their last seven games.

"We weren't happy with the way we've been playing," he said.
"It was our fault as players. It wasn't the coaches fault. It was
no one else's fault. We had to find a way to get it done."

Game notes
Olajuwon, who had started all 24 games, is listed as
day-to-day. Eric Montross started his first game of the season in
place of Olajuwon. ... Pacers center Jeff Foster, who blocked a
potential game-tying shot with 6 seconds left Tuesday against
Atlanta, swatted away Davis' shot to open the game. Davis was poked
in the left eye and left with blurred vision. He returned and was
0-for-5 in the first half. ... Miller needs seven points to surpass
Larry Bird for 19th place on the NBA's career scoring list. ... The
Raptors' losing streak was their longest of the season. ...
Peterson also scored 29 last February against Cleveland.