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Artest scores 22 as Pacers knock off Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- All five Indiana starters played significant
roles for coach Rick Carlisle against the Los Angeles Clippers --
none bigger than Austin Croshere.

After being held to five points through the first three
quarters, Croshere scored 12 in the fourth and grabbed a critical
offensive rebound in the final seconds to help the Pacers hold off
a late rally by the Clippers for a 97-92 victory on Sunday.

"We couldn't have won this game without the total team
effort," teammate Jermaine O'Neal said. "Austin was the catalyst,
getting in there and hitting those big 3-point shots. There were
multiple plays he made in the fourth quarter, and that's what makes
us a talented team."

Ron Artest scored 22 points and O'Neal added 16 points and 13
rebounds for the Pacers, who handed the Clippers their first home
loss in six tries and prevented them from setting a franchise
record for the most wins at home from the start of a season.
Stephen Jackson scored 15 points on 6-for-15 shooting after going
4-for-15 on Friday's 97-95 loss to Atlanta.

Elton Brand had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Clippers,
who have lost consecutive games for the first time this season
after a franchise-best 9-2 start.

"They put up 84 shots to our 70 shots, and you can't win like
that," shooting guard Cuttino Mobley said. "They got a little
physical with us, and it showed. You're not going to get the looks
you might normally get when you're playing Indiana."

Chris Kaman finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, but the
Clippers still managed to squander nine-point leads twice.

"We've got a lot of guys who play to win," Artest said. "We
were down, but we didn't give up. We started out slow, but we
played hard, took care of the ball and came out ahead."

Artest, who missed Friday's 87-85 loss to Atlanta because of a
bruised right wrist he injured on a hard foul by Cleveland's LeBron
James on Thursday, shot 8-for-19 from the field. The eight-year
veteran, who was named the NBA's defensive player of the year two
seasons ago, is averaging 21.2 points.

"Ron plays such good defense that people forget about his
offense," O'Neal said. "He posts up, he hits from outside, and
he's one of the better scorers in this league. So people should
recognize that. We don't just say, `Ron, go out and defend guys.'
Ron is a very capable scorer from all over the court."

Croshere and Artest hit 3-pointers 34 seconds apart in the
fourth quarter and Croshere added another 3 with 7:07 left to
extend Indiana's lead to 88-78, the first double-digit margin for
either team.

"They like to double, especially in the low post. So what coach
Carlisle did was put me and Ron into screen-and-rolls with their
guards, and I think that's what broke their backs late in the game
-- along with Croshere's threes," O'Neal said. "And if you're
going to tilt on us coming off the screen-and-rolls, then who's
going to guard Austin?"

The Clippers went on a 10-2 run capped by Mobley's 11-foot
jumper and narrowed the gap to 92-90 with 1:07 to play. But Jamaal
Tinsley hit two free throws at the other end, and Croshere grabbed
an offensive rebound of Tinsley's missed jumper on the Pacers' next
possession. He was fouled and converted both free throws for a
96-92 lead with 4.2 seconds to go.

O'Neal was only 1-for-7 from the field in the first half, but
the rest of the team picked up the slack offensively while he
concentrated on other aspects of his game.

"That's a good sign of the character of our team," O'Neal
said. "I said, OK, it's not going well for me offensively, so I've
got to block some shots, play tough defense and rebound the
basketball. That was my niche today. Austin, Ron, Jason and Jamaal
carried us offensively."

Game notes
Pacers broadcaster Al Albert and brother Marv both worked
the NBA doubleheader at Staples Center. Marv did TV play-by-play of
the Nets-Lakers game for the YES Network in New York. ... Clippers
C Zeljko Rebraca sat out his second straight game after being
diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat at the end of Wednesday's
victory over Toronto. He missed 50 games with an irregular
heartbeat during the 2002-03 season at Detroit. ... The Pacers
began their five-game road trip, their longest of the season,
without C Scot Pollard, who was recovering from a case of food
poisoning.