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Tinsley rallies Pacers past Trail Blazers

Dec 9, 2006 - 2:56 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Missing their star and looking at an embarrassing home loss, the Indiana Pacers needed a spark. They got one from Jamaal Tinsley.

Tinsley scored 11 of his 20 points in the pivotal third quarter and added eight assists and eight rebounds as the Pacers rallied for a 108-95 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Stephen Jackson scored 25 points for the Pacers, who played without injured All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal but still dealt the Trail Blazers their seventh loss in eight games.

"This team has always had to play without 'somebody,'" Jackson said. "Was it me, or Jamaal, or Jermaine, or Jeff (Foster) ... this team is used to it. I think everybody embraces their chance to shine."

Indiana got off to a sluggish start and trailed, 53-42, at halftime. The Pacers turned things around in the third quarter behind Tinsley, who took control of the game from his point guard position.

"They made a run at the end of the first half, and I think we just came out in the third quarter and out played them," said Tinsley, who had four steals and two blocks. "I was just doing my job, and when I get the opportunity to take easy shots, I tried to be aggressive."

Increasing the tempo on both ends and generating easy offense, Tinsley teamed with Jackson to power a 35-point period that gave Indiana a 77-67 lead entering the final 12 minutes.

"Jamaal can play like that. You just have to let him play," Jackson said. "He's our floor general and the better he plays, the better we play. We need him to play that way, because he's definitely the head of our monster, and we need him to be aggressive."

Tinsley scored eight points in a 17-6 run that opened the second half and pulled the Pacers into a 59-59 tie midway through the third period. Jackson took over from there, scoring his team's next seven points to give Indiana the lead for good.

"(Tinsley) made plays for everybody else," Jackson said. "It was easy for us to get shots and we got into the bonus early. When he's on his game and they're letting him play his game, the sky's the limit for him."

In the third quarter, Portland had six baskets and seven turnovers.

"Tinsley and those guys got aggressive in the second half and pressured the ball a little bit more and we threw the ball away, lost the ball, and just didn't get into our offense," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Between our two point guards, you're talking about nine turnovers. That's an awful lot of turnovers."

The Blazers got within 77-72 on a basket by Indiana native Zach Randolph with 10:19 to play. Tinsley answered with a 3-pointer and a steal that led to the first of three straight baskets by Sarunas Jasikevicius. Portland got no closer than eight points thereafter.

Al Harrington scored 16 points and Danny Granger added 14 for the Pacers, who shot 49 percent (37-of-75) from the field and registered nine blocks.

With O'Neal sidelined by a hamstring injury, journeyman Maceo Baston got his first NBA start and made the most of it, collecting nine points, four blocks and two steals.

"I just wanted to bring energy and whatever I can to the team," Baston said. "I'm kind of still trying to fit to a new team with new players and a new situation for me. I've been a professional for a while now, and basketball is basketball. I've played at this level before, played in championships in Europe, so when it comes down to it, I'm just going to play how I know I can play."

Randolph scored 29 points, but Portland's other starters managed just 12. Rookie Sergio Rodriguez scored a season-high 17 points off the bench for the Blazers, who shot 45 percent (34-of-76) in their seventh straight loss to the Pacers.

"We're not mentally or physically strong enough to compete for 48 minutes right now," McMillan said. "Either we play a good first half or we dig a hole for ourselves and play well in the second half. But mentally and physically making the adjustment to play a full game, we haven't been able to do that."

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