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Diogu leads Pacers past Grizzlies with big fourth quarter

Feb 4, 2007 - 6:57 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- While Jermaine O'Neal continues to shine, newcomer Ike Diogu came up big when it mattered most.

Continuing his stellar play, O'Neal collected 25 points and 17 rebounds and Diogu scored 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Indiana Pacers remained hot with a 116-110 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Jamaal Tinsley had 25 points and nine assists for the Pacers, who shot a blistering 53 percent (45-of-85) from the field en route to their highest scoring output of the season and their sixth win in seven games.

"I always say you can't really tell how good your team is going to be until later on in the season, but as of right now, we look pretty good," O'Neal said. "We have different people who present different types of styles. It gives me more room to operate pretty much the entire game."

O'Neal, who was named to his sixth All-Star Game on Thursday, was averaging 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds over his last five contests and showed no signs of slowing down. Combining an effective fadeaway jumper with strong moves to the basket, he made 11-of-23 shots.

But down the stretch, Indiana was led by Diogu, who had his best game since arriving from Golden State in an eight-player deal on January 17.

"This was a real big win for the team," Diogu said. "We talked about being five games over .500, and tonight the guards were doing a good job of getting me the ball down low. When I got it down low, they told me to do what I can do and the confidence started to grow. That's why I was able to have a pretty good game."

O'Neal is happy to be playing alongside Diogu.

"I think he's getting more and more comfortable with the system because we have one of the more complicated offensive systems in the league," O'Neal said. "But we knew what we were getting when we got him - a tremendous low-post scorer, a rebounder and a shot blocker. He just came out and did a tremendous job."

Averaging just 3.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in eight games with the Pacers, Diogu was a force on the interior, shooting 6-of-10 from the field, 7-of-7 from line and grabbing nine rebounds.

However, he attributes his success to O'Neal's dominance.

"It's great playing alongside an All-Star like (O'Neal) because he commands so much attention," O'Neal said. "That really frees things up for me, as it showed tonight."

After Chucky Atkins' 3-pointer gave the Grizzlies a 102-101 lead with 6:33 left, the Pacers finished on a 15-8 run. O'Neal and Diogu scored seven points each during the decisive spurt.

Gasol netted 30 points and Mike Miller added 26 for the Grizzlies, who shot 49 percent (39-of-79).

"I thought the key to the game was our inability defensively to cover the lane at all," Memphis coach Tony Barone said. "Give credit to Diogu and to Jermaine. They wore us out. We didn't do a bad job on Jermaine; he got his shots. But Diogu killed us in the lane."

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