O'Neal powers Pacers past PistonsDec 14, 2006 - 2:38 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The Indiana Pacers received some reinforcements to avoid a third straight loss.
Jermaine O'Neal scored 26 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to power the Pacers to a 101-90 win over the Detroit Pistons.
After having sat out the past three games with a hamstring injury, the 6-11 O'Neal returned with a vengeance. He scored 12 points in a row for Indiana late in the fourth to repel Detroit's comeback hopes.
"We got into a spurt (in the fourth quarter) where we couldn't make plays," O'Neal said. "They cut the lead and I felt like I just needed to take over. Again, that comes from the team putting me in a position to be successful."
The Pacers opened the final quarter by scoring the first seven points to go ahead, 83-71, but the Pistons answered with nine in a row to pull within three.
With Indiana leading, 87-82, O'Neal converted a three-point play with 4:37 to play to extend the lead to eight and finished his 12-point tear by completing another three-point play for a 99-88 advantage with 1:27 left.
"He was struggling in the first half," Pacers guard Stephen Jackson said of O'Neal. "But he really shows his professionalism by how he carries this team. He took over in the fourth quarter with a bunch of big shots and a couple of big 'and one's' at the end. We needed his offense tonight. He stepped up and sealed the game for us."
The Pacers were missing O'Neal and Al Harrington to injuries in their last game, as well as Jackson, who was suspended by the team for disciplinary reasons.
Harrington scored 12 of his 16 points in the opening quarter to start Indiana on a positive note against Detroit, which entered with impressive back-to-back road wins over Orlando and Dallas.
"It's seems like the more rest we get, the less energy we come back with," Pistons guard Chauncey Billups said. "I don't know, it's just weird. I just wish we could always play teams that are better than .500, because we can't beat teams that are under .500. It's bizarre."
Jamaal Tinsley scored 21 points, including 10 in the third quarter, as the Pacers broke a streak of 24 straight games without scoring 100 points against the Pistons.
"Jamaal probably deserves the MVP for tonight's game," O'Neal said. "He controlled the tempo and he kept Chauncey Billups on his heels all night. When Billups is on his heels, that team pretty much struggles."
The Pistons were flirting with trouble throughout, falling behind by 13 points in the second quarter before 3-pointers by Tayshaun Prince and Billups helped them close within 54-49 at halftime.
Indiana rebuilt the lead to 13 in the third quarter, only to see Billups connect from the arc and Rasheed Wallace nail a 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to cut the deficit to 76-71 after three quarters.
"I think we were stagnant," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "They did some things (defensively), but we were just stagnant. We got one-directional with what we were trying to do. It was like we were pretty much playing uphill the whole time."
Billups and backcourt made Richard Hamilton scored 22 and 18 points, respectively.
INDIANA 101 FINAL
Dec 13 9:22 PM
INDIANA 76 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 13 8:51 PM
HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
DETROIT 25 24 49
INDIANA 28 29 57 HALFTIME
HIGH SCORERS AT HALFTIME
DET - CHAUNCEY BILLUPS 13, RICHARD HAMILTON
11, RASHEED WALLACE 6
IND - JERMAINE O'NEAL 12, AL HARRINGTON 12,
STEPHEN JACKSON 8
Dec 13 8:11 PM
END 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
DETROIT 25 25
INDIANA 28 28 END 1ST QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 1ST QUARTER
DET - CHAUNCEY BILLUPS 8, RASHEED WALLACE 6,
RICHARD HAMILTON 5
IND - AL HARRINGTON 12, JERMAINE O'NEAL 4,
JEFF FOSTER 4
Dec 13 7:38 PM
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