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O'Neal, Pacers use big second half to top Bucks

Nov 19, 2006 - 4:52 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- After two tumultuous seasons, the Indiana Pacers and Jermaine O'Neal can handle almost anything.

O'Neal recorded a double-double and added a season-high eight blocks and Stephen Jackson netted 17 points as the Pacers erased a 15-point halftime deficit in a 102-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Jamaal Tinsley scored 15 points for Indiana, which shot 43 percent (34-of-80) from the field and nailed 11 shots from the arc.

After enduring some ugly on- and off-court incidents in the past, the Pacers showed their mettle by battling back in the second half to end a three-game losing streak. However, O'Neal said the difference was a committment on the defensive end.

"When we don't play good defense, we struggle offensively," he said. "We're forced to take the ball out of the rim, take it out of bounds, and we're not able to get into our transition offense.

"When we get stops, we're really able to take it back at 'em. We knew Milwaukee is a predominantly jump shooting team and they would not continue to make the shots they were making, we were hoping anyway."

The 6-11 O'Neal netted 20 points and added 12 rebounds and four assists. Jackson shot 7-of-17, including three 3-pointers.

"(O'Neal) was the star of the game without question. He had a dominant performance of the second half of a back-to-back," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "Eight blocks were the difference in the game. The game could have tipped one way or the other, but two or three of his blocked shots tipped it in our way and gave us an opportunity to go up three or four and that was the difference."

Trailing, 50-45, at halftime, Indiana outscored Milwaukee, 32-21, in the third quarter with Tinsley scoring 10 points in the period. After 11 lead changes in the fourth quarter, the 6-3 point guard gave the Pacers the lead for good, hitting a layup to make it 91-90 with 3:35 remaining.

"We just have to come out and compete for 48 minutes," Tinsley said. "That's been our struggle. We have good talent on the defensive end and that's more important. Anyone can put the ball in the hole."

With a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, Milwaukee held on to the ball too long, as rookie Ersan Ilyasova passed to Andrew Bogut as time expired on the game's final possession.

"We wanted to make sure they didn't get a clean shot off. The defense was targeted toward (Michael) Redd," O'Neal said. "We didn't want him to get it at all. Their coach did a great job of calling that call but once (Ilyasova) got the ball, we put two guys on him and forced him to kick the ball back. With 2.2 seconds, you can't take two dribbles and pass."

Carlisle wasn't as confident.

"We were all holding our breath. (Milwaukee coach) Terry (Stotts) is a great end-of-game coach," he said. "They always execute. It looked like Ilyasova had a good shot and turned it down. I'm not sure exactly what happened."

Mo Williams collected 16 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds for the Bucks, who shot 46 percent (36-of-78).

Redd, who entered the game leading the NBA in scoring at 31.3 per game, scored just two points in the first half before finishing with 21.

"It didn't help that they announced I scored 57 the (home) game before (on November 11 vs. Utah)," Redd said. "I knew Indiana was going to focus on me, but points aren't important."

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