The former defensive player of the year held James to 19 points
on 6-of-20 shooting in Indiana's 98-76 victory over Cleveland on
"It's nothing personal, like a one-on-one matchup with him,"
Artest said. "It's a team thing. I am a hungry defender and want
to win and will guard anybody if that will help us win."
The victory snapped Cleveland's eight-game winning streak.
The rest of the Pacers knew that Artest was clearly the key to
frustrating James on offense.
"He made him work for everything," said Jermaine O'Neal, who
finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. "We made it tough on
Artest also outplayed James on the offensive end, scoring 21
points on 6-of-12 shooting.
The Pacers (7-3) won their third game in a row while the
Cavaliers (9-3) missed the chance to become the first Eastern
Conference team to win 10 games.
Cleveland averaged a league-best 105 points per game coming in,
but was held to 38 percent shooting and tied its season low for
points. James called it a combination of the Pacers' defense and
poor execution by the Cavaliers.
"We shot terrible tonight," he said. "It's not like we didn't
have good shots. We had great looks ... You have to give it to
them. They made us look bad."
James never found his rhythm with Artest guarding him. He missed
his first eight shots and didn't make a field goal until 1:57 left
in the first half.
Indiana played its second consecutive top-notch defensive game.
The Pacers held Houston to 74 points on Sunday.
"Defensively, we had one of our better efforts," said Indiana
coach Rick Carlisle. "This is a nightmare team to defend because
of their ability to slash at the wing positions and their ability
to shoot long range. Fortunately, they were missing some they might
Cleveland coach Mike Brown was Indiana's associate head coach
the past two seasons, and the Pacers made his homecoming memorable
for all the wrong reasons. Indiana held the Cavaliers to 9-of-36
shooting in the first half and took a 47-30 lead into the break.
The Pacers led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter.
The Pacers' winning streak follows an embarrassing 122-90 loss
to Charlotte. O'Neal said the Pacers are finally starting to play
well consistently on both ends of the floor.
"This was probably the most complete game we've played this
season." he said. "They're ranked ahead of us in the east, and we
beat them soundly.
Reggie Miller and Cheryl Miller both worked on TNT's
television broadcast team, Reggie as a color commentator and Cheryl
as a sideline reporter. It was the first time the brother-sister
combination worked a game together. Reggie, a former Pacer, retired
last year. The fans greeted him with a standing ovation during a
break halfway through the first quarter.