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Artest leads Pacers past McGrady-less Rockets

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers knew what to do when they
realized Tracy McGrady wasn't playing -- make Yao Ming work extra
hard for his points.

McGrady, Houston's leading scorer, sat out with a strained back.
Yao, the team's No. 2 option, led the Rockets with 24 points and 13
rebounds, but was 8-for-21 from the field in Indiana's 85-74
victory Sunday night.

Indiana centers Scot Pollard and David Harrison combined for
four points, but they made an impact by making the 7-foot-6 Yao
struggle. Ten of Yao's points came in the fourth quarter with the
game already out of reach. He was 3-for-14 from the field before
that.

"Pollard and Harrison did a fine job," Indiana coach Rick
Carlisle said. "David got a couple of fouls early, but he adjusted
to the situation and worked to make it hard on him. Scot's the
specialist. He's a real pro at dealing with guys like Yao and
Shaq."

Ron Artest scored nine of his 24 points in the fourth quarter to
spark the offense. The Pacers (6-3) won their second in a row
heading into their Thanksgiving Night showdown with Cleveland.

The short-handed Rockets (3-7) lost their third in a row and are
0-4 in games McGrady has missed.

"We can play without him, but it's tough," Yao said.

The Pacers say Houston is a different team without McGrady, but
add that they respect coach Jeff Van Gundy.

"Tracy is their best player, but we never talk about him not
playing," said Jermaine O'Neal, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
"Fortunately for us, he didn't play, but they still came out with
that Van Gundy effort."

Indiana led 38-37 at halftime before Stephen Jackson scored
eight points in the third quarter to give the Pacers a 58-52 lead
heading into the fourth.

The Pacers started the final quarter on a 14-4 run that gave
them a 72-56 lead and forced a Houston timeout with 8:09 left.
Sarunas Jasikevicius and Artest each scored five points during the
run.

Artest made five of 16 shots from the field in the first three
quarters but went 4-for-4 in the fourth.

"I think Ron is playing really well," Carlisle said. "He got
off to a slow start offensively tonight, but let the game come to
him when we needed it."

Jackson scored 17 points and made three of seven 3-pointers for
the Pacers.

Derek Anderson scored 13 points, David Wesley 12 and Juwan
Howard 11 for Houston.

Indiana allowed its lowest point total of the season. The Pacers
held Houston to 41 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers.

"That was one of our better sustained defensive efforts,"
Carlisle said. "That's one we've got to keep building on."

Game notes
Houston's Luther Head had seven points and two assists in
his first career start. The rookie from Illinois played 34 minutes
... Houston guard Rafer Alston sat out for the second straight game
with a right lower leg bruise ... Jasikevicius missed a free throw
for the first time this season. He missed the first of two shots in
the third quarter. He had made 22 straight heading into the game.
Phoenix's Steve Nash was the only other player in the league to
enter Sunday's action perfect from the line ... O'Neal notched his
fourth double-double of the season.