Nets withstand fourth-quarter rally


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Rick Carlisle ripped Ron Artest and the
Indiana Pacers following a loss to the New Jersey Nets, calling
them an immature team who stole money from the paying customers
Saturday night.

"We're young and we're immature as hell," Carlisle said after
he was ejected during the Pacers' 82-75 loss to the Nets. "And we
don't understand what we've got sitting right here in our hands.
We're unwilling to reach out and grab it."

Jason Kidd had 16 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds for his
NBA-leading sixth triple-double of the season and second in a row,
but Carlisle was more disappointed with his team's lack of effort
and leadership.

Artest played uninspired in the first half and argued with
Carlisle on the bench and in the locker room, prompting Carlisle to
bench him for the entire second half.

"Ron Artest did not play in the second half for conduct
detrimental to winning," Carlisle said. "Part of it occurred on
the court, part of it occurred at halftime.

"As a coach, there's times where you've got to make a stand and
there's times when the soul of the team is more important than one
guy's particular agenda," Carlisle said.

"I've lived here too long, I know how these people in this
state and this city feel about this game, and to watch one guy ...
compromise what the game's all about is gut-wrenching and
unacceptable," he said. "I will not accept it."

Artest fired back, criticizing Carlisle's offensive system.

"He calls all the plays. It's not easy to play in a set every
time," Artest said. "I feel like I can play. If they don't want
me to play here, I can go play somewhere else."

It was the first big problem Artest has presented this season
after being suspended for a total of 12 games and fined $155,000
last season.

Indiana used a 13-0 run to pull within three in the fourth
quarter, but the Nets never let the Pacers tie it.

"Eighteen-thousand, three-hundred forty-five people came in
here tonight to see the team play the right way from start to
finish, and they got gypped. They got their money stolen tonight.
Nothing makes me more ashamed than that," Carlisle said.

Kenyon Martin added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the surging
Nets, who won for the ninth time in 11 games.

Kidd had 24 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in Friday night's
win over Detroit.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this was the third time
Kidd had triple-doubles on consecutive nights. He also did it Dec.
17-18, 1999, and Jan. 12-13, 1996.

Nets coach Byron Scott said the win showed that that New Jersey
is still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

It was a much different mood in the Pacers' locker room after
Indiana dropped its second game in a row for the first time this

Miller and O'Neal also drew technical fouls for arguing.

"I was hired to bring this team to a championship level," said
Carlisle, who is in his first year as coach of the Pacers. "I'm
here to tell everybody right now, it can't happen unless 12 guys in
uniform, three guys on the injured list, four coaches are doing
things the right way."

The Nets led 75-59 with under six minutes to play before the
Pacers closed the gap to three points on Al Harrington's layup.

The sellout crowd erupted when Reggie Miller hit a 3-pointer
with 1:01 to play that made it 77-75. But Richard Jefferson
responded with a jumper and Kidd added three free throws and a
timely steal from Miller to seal the win.

"I'm proud of our guys who played in the second half and hung
in there," Carlisle said.

Jefferson added 20 points and six rebounds for New Jersey.

Harrington led Indiana with 22 points, and Jermaine O'Neal and
Austin Croshere each had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

"I'm disappointed also with the leadership of the team,"
Carlisle said. "It's one thing for me to make a stand, but the
guys in the locker room have to make a stand as well. No one guy is
bigger than this team. No one guy is bigger than this franchise."

Game notes
Miller recently passed Charles Barkley for 14th on the
NBA's all-time scoring list. Before the game, Barkley delivered a
tearful, tongue-in-cheek congratulatory message on the arena's big
screen. "Reggie, congratulations for passing me, I'm glad you are
finally getting the respect you deserve and I love you," he said.
... O'Neal received a technical foul with 9:04 to play in the first
quarter for arguing an offensive foul call. ... Nets F Aaron
Williams missed his fifth straight game with a pulled groin.