Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 3)

Series starts 11/2

Game 1: Wednesday, November 2nd
Game 2: Monday, March 13th
Game 3: Wednesday, April 19th

Pacers 90

(1-0, 1-0 away)

Magic 78

(0-1, 0-1 home)

7:00 PM ET, November 2, 2005

Amway Arena, Orlando, FL

1 2 3 4 T
IND 20 27 24 1990
ORL 22 21 20 1578

Top Performers

Ind: J. O'Neal 19 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Orl: S. Francis 15 Pts, 9 Reb, 7 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk

Artest scores 16 in return to Pacers lineup

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Ron Artest expected boos, and he got them. He also handled them well.

Artest was perfectly behaved in his return to the NBA on Wednesday night. He played OK, too, especially considering he missed most of last season.

Artest had 16 points, three rebounds and five assists, and the Indiana Pacers began life without Reggie Miller with a 90-78 victory over the Orlando Magic.

"They were nice boos," Artest said with a smile. "They had to do that because they had nothing else to do. I am not paying attention to it."

Artest started 1-of-7 from the field, but shook off the rust in the second half and led the Pacers to victory with several big plays and strong defense. He finished 4-of-14 from the floor and 6-of-9 from the free throw line.

"This is going to be a process for him," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "I would think it's going to be 20 to 30 games before he really starts to feel comfortable after being off for that long."

Artest converted a three-point play and made two 3-pointers -- all in a 2-minute span late in the third quarter -- that helped Indiana build an 11-point lead.

The Pacers held on from there and didn't need any clutch shots from Miller, the face of the franchise who retired in May after 18 seasons.

Artest's return was a much bigger story line.

All eyes were on the forward from the moment he entered TD WaterHouse Centre. He was loudly booed during pregame introductions and again every time his name was called. But he showed no reaction -- on the bench or on the court.

"Ron Artest is a guy that's used to getting a lot of attention, so this is not a big deal for him," Carlisle said. "He just goes out and plays, and tonight he played a quality game even though his stats weren't sparkling."

Artest played sound defense -- his trademark -- and was effective on the break and in half-court sets. Maybe more importantly, he was well behaved.

No brawls. No hard fouls. Not even a verbal jab.

He will be forever linked to the Nov. 19, 2004, brawl between the Pacers and the Detroit Pistons.

Artest reacted violently when a fan hit him in the face with a drink, setting off the worst brawl in U.S. sports history. Artest ran into the stands and pushed the fan he thought threw the cup. He also punched a fan who came onto the court.

Teammates joined in the melee, but Artest got most of the blame. He was suspended for the rest of the season -- 73 games, plus the playoffs -- the harshest punishment ever for a fight.

The Pacers have grown tired of talking about the fight. They want to focus on the season, one in which they are one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference.

They played like it against the Magic, spoiling the return of coach Brian Hill.

"I'm just disappointed in not winning the basketball game," Hill said. "Other than that, it was coaching another game. It was good to be back in the building and in the home locker room instead of that crappy visiting locker room."

Jermaine O'Neal scored 19 points, Austin Croshere added 16 and the Pacers were 7-of-19 from behind the 3-point line.

The victory came without Grant Hill in the lineup for Orlando. The team's second-leading scorer last season, Hill could miss up to six weeks after having surgery Monday for a sports hernia.

"He's not here, so we can't worry about that," Brian Hill said.

Steve Francis led the Magic with 15 points, nine rebounds and seven assists -- maybe playing as unselfishly as ever.

"I think Steve's doing a great job. I couldn't be more pleased with the way he's playing," Brian Hill said.

Game notes

The Pacers played without centers Jeff Foster (Achilles' tendon) Scot Pollard (strained calf). ... The Magic lost an opener for the first time since 1999. ... In a rare move, Francis grabbed a microphone just before tip-off and told the home crowd that the franchise was committed to winning and asked for their support. ... The Little League World Series team from nearby Maitland, which included sons of former major leaguers Dante Bichette and Mike Stanley, was recognized between quarters and received autographed baseballs from Magic players.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 90 78
FGM-FGA 33-70 (.471) 31-71 (.437)
3PM-3PA 7-19 (.368) 3-11 (.273)
FTM-FTA 17-22 (.773) 13-19 (.684)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-32 12-38
Assists 19 22
Turnovers 13 16
Steals 12 8
Blocks 5 4
Fast Break Points 15 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 22 (1/0)
Largest Lead 12 5

Top Performers

Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 19
Reb: 7
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Steve Francis Francis
Points: 15
Reb: 9
Ast: 7
Stl: 3
Blk: 1