INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal validated his addition to
the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
One day after being selected to play in his fourth straight
All-Star game, O'Neal scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds,
helping the Indiana Pacers hold off a late rally in a 94-87 win
over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.
"To be invited is an honor, but it's only for a couple of
days," O'Neal said. "Then I've got to get back to the real
mission, that's this team. This is my team."
O'Neal, who is averaging 32.3 points in his last three games,
scored 15 points in the first half on 7-of-10 shooting, leading the
Pacers to a 54-36 lead.
"He's an All-Star everyday," Stephen Jackson said. "It feels
like I'm with Tim Duncan (in San Antonio) all over again."
Jackson finished with 22 points and seven rebounds, and Fred
Jones scored 12 for Indiana, which saw a 22-point, first-half lead
dwindle to five late in the fourth quarter.
Melvin Ely, who was starting his fifth straight game in place of
injured rookie Emeka Okafor, led Charlotte with 20 points and 17
rebounds. Primoz Brezec added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the
Bobcats, who dropped their fourth straight game despite a spirited
"We are never going to give up," Brezec said. "If you watch
our games, you know we never give up. We made a good run, but you
can't play a game for 24 minutes."
Trailing 81-67 early in the fourth quarter, Charlotte began to
whittle away at the deficit. Jason Kapono hit consecutive jumpers
to bring the Bobcats within 86-79 with 4:20 left.
O'Neal's jumper with the shot clock winding down pushed the lead
back to 92-83 with 1:35 left. Charlotte continued to fight back,
getting two straight baskets from Brevin Knight to make it 92-87
with 11.8 seconds left. But O'Neal broke loose for an open dunk to
seal the victory.
"Our second half was scary," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.
"A lot of credit goes to them. Even though it's February and they
don't have much to play for, they showed a lot of heart."
Aided by O'Neal's nine first-quarter points, the Pacers quickly
built a double-digit lead. Indiana went on an 11-0 run early in the
Charlotte, which made just one of its first seven shots, closed
within 20-17 late in the first, but the Pacers scored six straight
points to close out the quarter.
In the second quarter, the Pacers used a 12-0 run to take a
52-30 lead with 1:23 left in the half.
"That's what we want to do, start games good," O'Neal said.
Charlotte used a 9-0 run to close within 61-52 in the second
half, but the Pacers closed out the quarter with a 7-2 run, pushing
their lead back to 10 points.
Pacers guard Jamaal Tinsley missed his fifth straight game
with a bruised left foot, an injury sustained against Philadelphia.
... Charlotte dressed only nine players after cutting Jamal Sampson
on Tuesday... Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff picked up a
technical foul for arguing a non-call late in the second quarter.
... Reggie Miller got a technical late in the second quarter. ...
Carlisle got a technical in the third quarter for arguing a
traveling call. ... Charlotte dropped to 1-4 without Okafor. ...
The Pacers swept the season series against the Bobcats 3-0.