Pacers will face Celtics in first round of playoffs


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Al Harrington raised his arms in apparent
celebration, his eyes fixed on the rim waiting for Ron Artest's
jumper to swish through for a milestone moment.

Instead, the ball clanked off the rim and Harrington ended one
assist shy of his first triple-double.

Harrington had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Jermaine O'Neal
added 26 points and 10 rebounds, as the Indiana Pacers secured
third place in the Eastern Conference with a 90-83 win over the New
Jersey Nets on Wednesday night.

"The guys on the bench let you know everything that's going on
in the game,'' Harrington said. "They said, 'Don't shoot the ball.
Pass.' I tried.''

The effort was still enough to boost the Pacers seeding in the

The Pacers had already earned home-court advantage in the first
round, but needed a victory or a Philadelphia loss to gain a spot
in the standings. Indiana will play Boston and New Jersey faces
Milwaukee this weekend.

"We had a lot of fun and played the way we're supposed to
play,'' Harrington said.

Jamaal Tinsley had 10 points and 12 assists, Artest added 16
points and Reggie Miller 14 for the Pacers (48-34).

The Nets clinched the Atlantic Division on Tuesday and rested
their starters for most of the game. Jason Kidd and Kenyon Martin
each scored 11 points in 21 minutes. Neither Kidd, Martin, Jason
Collins nor Kerry Kittles played in the second and fourth quarters.

Anthony Johnson led the Nets with 16 points and Aaron Williams
added 14.

"The guys who haven't played a lot came in and did some good
things,'' Nets coach Byron Scott said.

New Jersey's reserves gave the Pacers fits for most of the game.

It wasn't until late in the third when the Pacers snapped out of
a funk following the ejection of Collins. Collins was thrown out
after committing a flagrant foul on Miller, who was driving for a
layup under the basket.

Collins knocked Miller to the floor, where he stayed down for
several minutes before getting up to make two free throws that tied
the game at 50.

After Collins' foul, both teams were quickly separated and sent
back to their benches by the officials, and there were no further

"We'll see them again,'' Harrington said. "It's not over.''

The Pacers took a three-point lead into the fourth and never
trailed again.

Artest finished with two fast-break dunks on consecutive
possessions, one off a steal by Harrington, the other by Artest to
maintain a three-point lead. The Pacers never led by more than

Both teams were 34-15 at one point until second-half swoons
denied them 50 wins. The Pacers lost 15 of 20 at one point, but
have played better the last two weeks.

"These guys had every reason to quit and they kept persevering,
overcoming obstacles and scratched out 48 wins,'' Pacers coach
Isiah Thomas said.

Game notes
The Nets (49-33) were looking for consecutive 50-win
seasons for the first time in their NBA history. They won 50 or
more for three straight seasons (1973-76) in the ABA. ... The
Pacers were the eighth seed the past two years, losing in the first
round each time. The last time they advanced past the first round
was in 2000 when they lost to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. ... The
rules define a flagrant foul as unnecessary contact. Collins
received a flagrant-2 foul, which brings an automatic ejection.
That foul is defined as contact deemed unnecessary and excessive.
... The Pacers finished 32-9 at home. ... New Jersey center Dikembe
Mutombo was placed on the injured list Wednesday, two days after
missing the Nets' regular-season home finale for personal reasons.
The Nets said Mutombo has a sore right wrist. ... New Jersey won
the season series 2-1.