In a game missing two All-Stars, Ron Artest scored a career-high
35 points in leading the Pacers to a 107-92 win over the Magic on
Al Harrington had 19 points in the lineup slot vacated by
O'Neal, Indiana's leading scorer and rebounder. Jeff Foster added
16 points and 11 rebounds in the Pacers' third straight victory.
"Jermaine's out, so everybody had to step up their games -- and
everybody did," said Artest, who's previous scoring best was 32,
set last year. "Jeff, Al and I picked up the scoring, and Jeff
picked up the rebounding pretty well."
O'Neal bruised his right knee Monday, but he expects to play
Sunday against Miami.
Reggie Miller went scoreless for only the second time in his
17-year career. He took only two shots.
The Magic, losers of seven straight, played without the NBA's
leading scorer. McGrady was sidelined by tendinitis in his left
knee, and his condition is day-to-day.
With more shots available, Tyronn Lue set a career-high with 32
points and Juwan Howard added 24 with eight rebounds. Lue's 13
field goals and 19 attempts also were career bests.
"Guys understood that we were going to have to play like true
professionals," said Lue, whose previous best of 26 points came
with Washington in March, 2002.
But Orlando couldn't overcome 21 turnovers and a defense that
allowed 25 shots from point-blank range. The Pacers scored 52
points in the paint and 23 off turnovers.
Artest was 12-for-22 from the field, 3-of-4 on 3-pointers, and
made eight of 14 free throws. He had quarters of seven, nine, 10
and nine points. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and three
"The guy always fills up a stat sheet, but I thought tonight
his will carried our team," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said.
But his performance should come with an asterisk, as the
All-Star forward was guarded most of the night by reserve power
forward Drew Gooden.
Gooden started at in McGrady's absence, as Orlando is
experimenting again with whether he and fellow forward Howard can
coexist on the floor. The first trial was junked three weeks into
the season when the coaches decided Gooden was too slow to play on
the perimeter and Howard too small to defend centers.
Apparently, nothing's changed since November.
Artest repeatedly eluded Gooden, and his spinning layup with
3:18 remaining kicked off a game-breaking run of seven straight
points for a 100-87 lead.
"To Drew's credit, he gave it what he had at that position,"
Orlando coach Johnny Davis said. "It was different for him in
terms of backcourt coverage."
Said Artest: "I was just being aggressive."
Gooden didn't fare much better on the offensive end against
Artest, one of the NBA's best defenders. He scored six points while
taking only six shots.
"He didn't allow Drew to catch the ball in the prime positions
on the floor," Davis said.
Orlando's auditions for its 2004-05 roster continued beyond
Gooden. Late in the first half, the Magic had four rookies on the
floor: Keith Bogans, Reece Gaines, Britton Johnsen and Zaza
Pachulia. Howard provided adult supervision.
Gooden's start was his 15th of the year, but only his
second since November. ... Gooden was hit with a technical foul for
a first-quarter flop while trying to drawn offensive foul. ...
Pachulia's nine rebounds tied his career high ... According to the
Elias Sports Bureau, if Orlando continues playing at its current
pace and McGrady wins the scoring title, the Magic would have the
second-lowest winning percentage for a team with a scoring
champion. The 1952-53 Philadelphia Warriors went 12-57 (.174)
despite Neil Johnson's scoring title.