INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Rookie Sarunas Jasikevicius made Ron
Artest's first home appearance a whole lot sweeter.
Jasikevicius, a 29-year-old Lithuanian who played college ball
at Maryland, had 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter Thursday
night as the Indiana Pacers came from behind and beat the Utah Jazz
"I'm beginning to feel comfortable, but I'm still a long ways
off," said Jasikevicius, who played the past seven years in Europe
and signed with Indiana as a free agent in August.
"I am a rookie as an old man. I'm just trying to get my rhythm,
get in shape, fit in and help this team to win," he said.
Jasikevicius hit 6-of-9 shots, added three rebounds and a
team-high four assists.
"He played great; everybody played great. ... But it's the
preseason," Artest said. "The guys are getting in shape, getting
ready. He (Jasikevicius) is a really good point guard. He's not as
good on defense; we're going to have to help him a lot. But he can
run the show."
Artest, playing his first game at home since he was suspended
following the brawl with Detroit fans last November, had 23 points,
but Indiana still trailed by seven after a basket by Utah rookie
Deron Williams early in the final period.
Two free throws each by Artest and Austin Croshere made it
77-74, then after Williams scored again, two more free throws by
Croshere and a 3-pointer by Jasikevicius tied the game. There was
one more tie before a basket by Stephen Jackson put the Pacers in
front for good.
"I like the way we finished the game," Indiana coach Rick
"We know Sarunas can do things offensively, no question. His
biggest adjustments are defensively and learning the personnel in
the league. You saw the reason why we felt he was an important
Jasikevicius and Jackson, who finished with 15 points, combined
for 18 of Indiana's final 20 points.
The Jazz (1-1) pulled within 96-92 on a 3-pointer by Williams
with 32 seconds to go, but Jasikevicius scored the final basket and
free throw to clinch the win for the Pacers (1-1).
Williams, the third overall pick in the draft, led Utah with 17
"I like to take over the game. It's how I've always been,"
said Williams, who played at Illinois. "I have to be more
aggressive and hit my shots.
"We're coming along and once we get in a rhythn, we'll be OK,"
Artest, who missed the final 73 regular-season games and all of
the playoffs because of his suspension by the league, was the focus
of Indiana's offense at the beginning. He scored the Pacers' first
two baskets and took five shots in the first four minutes of the
game. His third basket put Indiana up 10-5 midway through the
The Jazz managed only three free throws in a stretch of almost
eight minutes before a basket by Mehmet Okur cut Indiana's lead to
14-10 at the end of the quarter.
With reserves in the game, Utah came back in the second quarter,
tying the game seven times before two free throws by Williams put
the Jazz up 35-33 with under two minutes left in the half. Indiana
regain a 40-37 lead at the half, but Utah took control in the third
quarter and had its biggest lead at 73-65 early in the final
For the second straight game, Indiana was without Jermaine
O'Neal because of a bruise to his right thigh.