SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal and the rest of Indiana's
starters could have gotten a head start on the next leg of the
Pacers' road trip.
There wasn't a lot of reason for them to stick around in an
84-60 victory over Utah on Tuesday night, Indiana's sixth in a row
over the Jazz.
"In the second half we came out and we really put our will on
those guys. I think our maturity and our experience really took us
to the next level," said O'Neal, who had his fifth double-double
in the last six games with 21 points and 15 rebounds.
The Pacers improved to 2-0 on a five-game road trip, which
continues Wednesday night at Phoenix.
"They've got the roadrunners out there in Phoenix. It's going
to be another tough game," O'Neal said.
Well, Indiana should be well rested for the Suns. O'Neal played
just 2 minutes, 20 seconds of the fourth quarter, and Ron Artest
and Austin Croshere were the only starters to play more than 4
minutes in the final period.
Jamaal Tinsley added 14 points for the Pacers, who blocked 10
shots in the game and closed the third quarter with a 12-2 run.
"We struggled offensively in the first half, but we never
stopped defending the entire game. That's a sign of a team that's
starting to figure things out," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.
Neither team shot 30 percent in the first quarter, but while
Indiana got progressively better, Utah continued to struggle. Jazz
coach Jerry Sloan benched his starters for most of the fourth
quarter and the reserves didn't fare any better.
The 60 points are a new low for Utah at home, slightly worse
than the 62 scored in a loss to the New York Knicks on Nov. 14.
"We could never get any energy to run the floor," Sloan said.
"I'd say that is the most difficult thing to have to sit and watch
-- our ability to run the floor. I think our guys are in pretty good
shape, but it looked like we were running in mud."
Deron Williams led the Jazz with 14 points. Utah's Andrei
Kirilenko scored seven in his return after missing seven straight
games with a sprained right ankle.
Utah had 20 turnovers and was just 23-for-69 from the field.
"We're finally starting to play that defense that made us so
good for so many years," O'Neal said.
The Jazz never were able to contain O'Neal, who also led Indiana
with four assists. The only thing keeping Indiana's center from six
straight double-doubles was getting nine rebounds last week in a
victory over Cleveland. He had nine boards by halftime Tuesday and
got to rest most of the fourth quarter after breaking free for a
one-handed dunk to put Indiana up 73-45.
Indiana had already held off Utah's biggest comeback threats,
which never were really that all that big.
The Pacers led by 14 when Williams got Tinsley to jump, then
made a 3-pointer while getting fouled and converting for a
four-point play to cut the lead to 46-36 with 6:54 left in the
third. But Stephen Jackson answered with a jumper and a 3-pointer
and the Jazz never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.
Kirilenko converted a three-point play with 4:27 remaining to
cut Indiana's lead to 51-39, then the Pacers scored the next eight
during their 12-2 run to end the period. Indiana got back-to-back
layups off of offensive rebounds by O'Neal and Danny Granger and a
20-foot jumper by Jackson, who scored nine.
The Jazz last beat the Pacers 102-91 on Dec. 2, 2002. ...
The Pacers will try for their third straight season sweep over the
Jazz on Dec. 16 in Indianapolis. ... There were no field goals for
the first 3 minutes of the second.