Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 12/2

Game 1: Monday, December 2nd
Game 2: Friday, March 14th

Jazz 81


Pacers 101

(39-27, 26-5 home)

    Coverage: FSRM

    7:00 PM ET, March 14, 2003

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 11 18 24 2881
    IND 20 29 25 27101

    Top Performers

    UTAH: K. Malone 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 4 Stl

    Ind: J. Bender 22 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

    Bender, Croshere, Mercer carry Pacers past Jazz

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- It took some forgotten Pacers to remind Indiana how to win.

    Ron Mercer

    Ron Mercer came out of oblivion to score 10 points for the Pacers.

    Jonathan Bender scored a career-high 22 points and Erick Strickland had 19 points and 11 assists as the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 101-81 win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night.

    Austin Croshere scored 10 of his 14 points during a 26-6 second-quarter run, and Ron Mercer scored 10 in his best game in over a month for the short-handed Pacers.

    "The good thing about this team is we have a bunch of guys that want to take this challenge,'' Strickland said.

    The Pacers turned to their seldom-used reserves with three starters out of the lineup. Ron Artest was suspended by the NBA, Jamaal Tinsley was tending to personal matters and Brad Miller had a sore left foot.

    Indiana also was in a deep collective funk, having lost 12 of 13 games to drop to fourth place in the Eastern Conference. But everything clicked for Indiana on Friday.

    The oft-injured, athletic Bender was making his first start of the season. Playing in only his 30th game of the season, he had several leaping dunks -- including one over Utah's 7-foot-2 center Greg Ostertag -- and was 8-for-12 from the floor despite sitting out the second quarter.

    He played all 12 minutes of the third, sank both of his 3-pointers and scored 14 points to push the Pacers' lead to 24.

    "It makes a player feel good inside to go out and contribute something to his team,'' said the soft-spoken Bender.

    Croshere and Mercer played the entire second quarter and led Indiana's run. The two combined to shoot 7-for-10 from the floor and 4-for-6 from the free throw line for 20 points in the quarter.

    Croshere's 12 points in the quarter were more than any he's had in a game since Feb. 22, though he's received three DNP-CD's during that span and missed three games for personal reasons.

    "When you're coming off the bench, you don't know how many minutes you're going to get. But when you get them you want to be prepared,'' Croshere said.

    Mercer hadn't scored double digits since Feb. 16, was mired in a 20-for-65 slump and received the first DNP-CD of his career.

    Both were on against the Jazz, with Mercer hitting several long jumpers and Croshere sinking two 3-pointers.

    Croshere, though, wasn't expecting major minutes for Indiana's next game. He's been through this before -- having a big game or two only to return to the bench for extended time.

    Croshere said Indiana's bench players are very cautious of doing things right, because their margin of error is much smaller.

    "We have to do things by the book, how they're drawn-up, or else we'll be out of there,'' he said.

    The Pacers scored the first 12 points of the 26-6 run and ended it ahead by 27. They entered halftime with a 49-29 lead.

    Jermaine O'Neal had 14 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana.

    Karl Malone scored 21 points for the Jazz, Andrei Kirilenko had 15 and Matt Harpring 13.

    "They never let up on us,'' Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We didn't even deserve to be out there with them.''

    Game notes

    Bender had scored 20 points three other times. ... Artest was suspended for one game without pay for exceeding the maximum flagrant-foul penalty points. ... Miller scored 11 points and passed Robert Parish for 15th place on the NBA's career scoring list. ... Utah PG Mark Jackson, who spent 5 years with the Pacers, had three assists, leaving him four behind Magic Johnson for second place on the career assists list. ... Utah scored 11 points in the first quarter, the fewest scored in that quarter by a Pacers' opponent this season. ... Ostertag took an accidental elbow to the face from Malone in the third quarter. He did not return. ... A member of an entertainment group that performs during games appeared to land on his head during a stunt. John Gentry left the game on a stretcher and was taken to a hospital as precaution . ... With two steals, Malone became the first player in NBA history to record 35,000 points, 10,000 rebounds, 4,0000 assists and 2,000 steals.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 81 101
    FGM-FGA 29-76 (.382) 34-77 (.442)
    3PM-3PA 2-6 (.333) 10-16 (.625)
    FTM-FTA 21-29 (.724) 23-31 (.742)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-41 18-50
    Assists 22 29
    Turnovers 14 15
    Steals 10 3
    Blocks 6 6
    Fast Break Points 8 5
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (0/0) 24 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Karl Malone Malone
    Points: 21
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 4
    Blk: 0
    Jonathan Bender Bender
    Points: 22
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1