Making only his fifth start this season, Johnson was perfect
from the field, scored a season-high 21 points and hit two free
throws in the closing seconds to clinch Indiana's 95-94 victory
over Dallas on Friday night.
The win ended Indiana's six-game losing streak, which included
two games with Johnson sidelined by the flu last week.
"I think we were just playing with a high energy level, playing
with a sense of urgency," said Johnson, who hit all seven of his
field-goal attempts, including three 3-pointers. "We lost six in a
row, and it was time for us to step up and show what we are made
The two free throws by Johnson with 4.6 seconds left gave
Indiana a 95-92 lead, and he intentionally fouled Dirk Nowitzki to
avoid the possibility of a tying 3-pointer. Nowitzki made the first
free throw, then accidentally banked the second one in after trying
to miss in hopes of a rebound.
As Mavericks owner Mark Cuban pounded a chair behind the Dallas
bench, the Pacers inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.
"Dallas is not known for their defense, and there were going to
be opportunities out there tonight," said Johnson, whose previous
high this season was 16 points. "I haven't been shooting the ball
well, and I felt like it was finally coming around the corner."
Nowitzki led Dallas with 32 points, Jerry Stackhouse added 21
and Michael Finley had 13. Jermaine O'Neal had 23 points and Fred
Jones and Austin Croshere added 14 each for the Pacers, who played
short-handed with two starters injured and a third, Stephen
Jackson, serving a one-game suspension for berating officials at
the end of Wednesday night's loss to Toronto.
"It's a challenge for us every single night," O'Neal said.
"We're short-handed every single night (because of the Detroit
brawl-related suspension of Ron Artest), and I think people seem to
"We wanted to come out and get a good start."
The Pacers, just as they did against Toronto, got off quickly,
scoring the first nine points. They still led 27-18 after a basket
by O'Neal, but the Mavericks began chipping into the lead after
Indiana's first major round of substitutions.
A 3-pointer by reserve Eddie Gill kept Indiana ahead 32-24, but
Nowitzki scored the final basket of the opening period, and a
3-pointer by Finley finished a 14-2 run that put Dallas ahead early
in the second quarter.
That's when the Pacers brought their starters back. O'Neal then
hit two free throws and Fred Jones made a 3-pointer to start a 17-6
Indiana run, and the Pacers kept their lead at five to seven points
the rest of the half. Dallas came within four early in the third
quarter, but Johnson hit another 3-pointer and a layup. Then, after
Erick Dampier left with his fourth foul, O'Neal hit two straight
over backup Alan Henderson to give Indiana its biggest lead at
The Pacers matched that twice more before Nowitzki led the final
"Anthony Johnson probably played his best game of the year,"
said Dallas assistant Avery Johnson, still subbing for recuperating
coach Don Nelson. "We couldn't find any kind of combination that
worked until late in the game.
"That first quarter really set the tone," he said.
Indiana put F Jonathan Bender on the injured list because
of a sore right knee and activated rookie C David Harrison, who had
been out since Jan. 14 with a concussion. ... The Pacers also were
without injured starters Jeff Foster and Jamaal Tinsley. ... The
Mavericks have lost five of their past seven games at Indiana. ...
It was only the second loss for Dallas in 15 games in which
Nowitzki has scored at least 30 points. ... The Pacers were 9-of-24
from 3-point range (38 percent), including 4-of-5 in the first
quarter. Dallas had held opponents to a league-low 32 percent for
the season. ... Indiana's Reggie Miller played 32 minutes, passing
John Havlicek for sixth place with 46,478 career minutes. ... It
was Indiana's third straight game decided by one point. ... Anthony
Johnson's three assists gave him 1,002 for his seven-year career.