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Shoving match escalates into fight

1/4/2004

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A fight-marred matchup of the Indiana Pacers
and New Orleans Hornets turned an intense rivalry into a bitter one
Saturday night.

The Pacers never trailed in a 91-84 victory that was filled with
hard fouls, tough defense and a shoving match between Indiana's Al
Harrington and New Orleans' George Lynch that escalated into a
fight and led to the ejections of Harrington, Lynch and New Orleans
center Jamaal Magloire.

"They don't like us and we don't like them," Hornets guard
Baron Davis said. "That's just how it's going to be."

Jermaine O'Neal had 26 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks to
lead the Pacers, with Jamaal Tinsley adding 18 points and nine
assists.

The fight broke out with 9:15 to play when Harrington fouled
Lynch near the Pacers' bench. Lynch elbowed Harrington in the jaw
and Harrington responded by first shoving Lynch, then tackling him
into the Pacers' bench.

A melee ensued, with several Hornets and Pacers piling into the
area.

"With two competitive teams in a highly visible game, every
once in awhile you're going to see things escalate," Pacers coach
Rick Carlisle said.

As several players, including O'Neal and Ron Artest, tried to
break up the fight, Magloire came from across the court and dived
into the pile. O'Neal tried to restrain Magloire and pull him away,
and Magloire responded by shoving O'Neal.

After an extended delay, the three ejections were announced and
play resumed with Indiana leading 75-57.

Harrington said no punches were thrown, but it was clear that
plenty of animosity will carry over to their next game -- Feb. 17 at
Indianapolis.

When told of Davis' comment, Harrington said, "Well, we don't
like them neither. The NBA better bring all their best officiating
crews and plenty of security, because it's going to be a war the
next time we see them."

The Pacers led by as many as 23 in the second quarter, but the
Hornets wouldn't go away. Davis got their deficit down to 81-73 on
a jump shot with just over three minutes to play, but they never
got closer than six.

Davis led the Hornets with 35 points on 12-for-25 shooting and
P.J. Brown added 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Davis complained that the Pacers were delivering cheap shots all
game.

"That's how it's going to be every time we play them," Davis
said. "People are going to fall, get elbowed, get cheap-shotted.
If that's how they're going to play, that's how it's going to be
from here on out."

That's just fine with Harrington.

"It's on now," Harrington said. "Every time we play them,
it's going to be a very good basketball game."

Carlisle has been prodding his team to start faster, and they
did.

O'Neal scored 13 points and Reggie Miller added nine in the
first quarter to help Indiana take a 29-10 lead.

"Our response early in the game was good," Carlisle said.
"Then it became important for us just to find a way to win."

Indiana stretched its lead in the third quarter on a brilliant
flurry from Artest, who blocked a dunk attempt by Robert Traylor,
then threw down a fast-break dunk to give the Pacers a 65-46 lead.

Things got interesting in the fourth as ejections and fouls
mounted. New Orleans had 30 personal fouls, with P.J. Brown fouling
out.

The Pacers had 31 personal fouls, with Tinsley and Artest
fouling out.

"As the game was winding down, we were running out of bodies
with the ejections and foul outs," Carlisle said. "I'm proud of
how our guys hung in there."

Game notes
Hornets G David Wesley drew a technical foul with 8:54 to
play in the first for arguing an offensive foul call. ... Tinsley
also received a technical for arguing shortly after the fight in
the fourth quarter. ... Former Pacers coach and longtime radio
analyst Bobby "Slick" Leonard returned to work after recovering
from a mild heart attack on Dec. 3. He received a standing ovation
from the crowd ... In Friday night's win over Boston, Miller passed
Patrick Ewing for 13th place on the NBA's career scoring list with
23,819 points. Next up is Jerry West at No. 12 with 25,192.