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Artest's 26 points help Pacers stay alive vs. Celtics

5/2/2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Never before in a playoff game, according to
the NBA's record book, had a team been held scoreless in overtime.

The Indiana Pacers did it to the Celtics on Tuesday night,
sending the series back to Boston for Game 6.

Ron Artest had 26 points and 10 rebounds, making the go-ahead
free throw in overtime after blocking Paul Pierce's shot at the end
of regulation, as Indiana rallied to beat Boston 93-88 Tuesday
night.

History hasn't been kind to teams trailing 3-1 in the NBA
playoffs. Indiana though, still has a chance.

"It's a very weak pulse. Obviously it's a little stronger,''
Reggie Miller said after the Pacers scored all five points in
overtime.

The Celtics still lead the series 3-2, and only six teams have
come back from 3-1 deficits -- just two since 1981.

"We should have closed it out today,'' said Boston's Paul
Pierce. "We can't give this team any more breathing room. We took
our hands off the choke hold and let them breathe a little bit.''

To advance, however, the Pacers will have to rediscover a level
of sustained success that's been missing for months. Since they
were 37-15 on Feb. 14, they've had only one three-game winning
streak.

"It's our turn to try and steal a win up there,'' Pacers coach
Isiah Thomas said. "It's our last crack at it.''

Jermaine O'Neal had 19 points and 22 rebounds, the latter a team
record for a playoff game.

Antoine Walker led the Celtics with 21 points, Tony Delk had 19 and Pierce 16.

"The pressure is still on them,'' Walker said. "They've got to
play that well at our building.''

Whether fatigued or nervous, neither team got going offensively
in overtime. Boston missed all six field goal attempts and the
Pacers were 1-for-10.

The five points by both teams were the second fewest in a
playoff overtime.

The NBA record book says the fewest points ever scored in an
overtime game was one -- by the Boston Celtics against Charlotte in
1993.

But the Elias Sports Bureau said there are two other games in
which teams may have been held scoreless in overtime. One happened
March 20, 1951 when Syracuse outscored Philadelphia 2-0 in the
extra period, although records from before the shot-clock era are
not recognized. The other was between Fort Wayne and Minneapolis on
March 22, 1955 -- a game for which the official statistical record is believed to be unreliable.

The difference in this game cam at the line, where Boston missed
its only two attempts while the Pacers went 3-for-4.

Walker missed two free throws with 1:58 left that would have
snapped an 88-88 tie.

Artest got his opportunity on the next possession when he was
fouled by Eric Williams with 1:08 left. Artest missed the first but hit the second.

O'Neal added a baseline jumper and Artest clinched it with two
free throws with 12 seconds left.

O'Neal continued to dominate for the Pacers. He just missed his
second 20-20 game of the series and is on pace to become the third
player to average 20 points and 15 rebounds in a postseason since
1992.

"We got Jermaine O'Neal the ball at the right time and the
right space, and he made the right shots,'' said guard Tim
Hardaway.

It was Hardaway who gave the Pacers the boost they needed off
the bench. After playing only 17 minutes in two playoff games, he
hit several clutch shots in the fourth.

Hardaway tied the score at 86 on a 3-pointer with 3:40 left in
regulation, and Artest followed with a left-handed layup for
Indiana's first lead since the second quarter.

Walker's basket tied it 88-88 with 2:01 remaining, and that's
the way it stayed until Artest's free throws.

Hardaway, signed in late March after working as a television
analyst, hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc that pulled
Indiana within one with 6½ minutes left.

Pierce followed with two jumpers, but Hardaway had an answer
with a runner in the lane to get it back to three. He finished with
13 points in 27 minutes, as starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley
played just three minutes in the second half.

"I thought it was a veteran's type of game where you needed his
savvy out on the floor, his gamesmanship out on the floor,'' Thomas
said. "His experience out on the floor and his shot making was
timely.''

Each team missed jumpers in the final minute, and regulation
ended with Artest swatting Pierce's shot out of bounds from behind.

Artest scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers shot
73 percent (11-for-15).

The Pacers had squandered 16-point third quarter leads in both
Games 1 and 4, which turned into Boston victories. They had another
awful third period in Game 5, missing 13 of 17 shots.

Pierce and J.R. Bremer closed the quarter with 3-pointers for a
71-62 lead.

After scoring 32 points in the second half of Game 4, Pierce
wasn't a factor in the first half of Game 5. He took only three
shots, and two of those were airballs on step-back jumpers against
Artest.

"It's the same stuff he's been doing all series,'' Pierce said.
"I can't say he's got any new tricks or anything. He's just
playing straight-up defense.''

Game notes
NBA commissioner David Stern was at the game. ... The
Pacers failed to sell out any of their three home playoff games.
... O'Neal was officially added to the U.S. basketball team for the
Olympics qualifying tournament to be played in August in Puerto
Rico. ... In 22 tries, Boston has never lost a series it led 3-1.
... The Pacers came back from a 3-1 deficit in the first round of
the 1969 ABA playoffs, defeating the Kentucky Colonels.