NBA Game Summary - Indiana at New Jersey
(Thursday, December 30th)
Final Score: Indiana 96, New Jersey 83
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Jermaine O'Neal scored a game-high 31 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Indiana over New Jersey, 96-83, at Continental Airlines Arena.
The Pacers had O'Neal for the contest after a federal judge ruled Thursday to uphold the reduction of the player's suspension. Last week, an arbitrator ruled O'Neal could play after serving 15 games of the 25-game suspension he received for fighting with Detroit fans in last month's well-publicized brawl.
However, the federal judge's decision was needed to make the reduction permanent, as the NBA challenged the arbitrator's initial ruling.
"With each game, (O'Neal's) conditioning has gotten better," said Indiana coach Rick Carlisle. "It is obvious that he kept himself in great condition during the suspension."
Austin Croshere added 17 points and Jeff Foster tallied a double-double with 16 points and 16 boards for the Pacers, who won their third straight game.
Newly acquired Vince Carter made his home debut in New Jersey and netted 25 points for the Nets, who fell for the second time in five outings. Richard Jefferson and Rodney Buford each scored 20 points, while Jason Kidd collected 11 rebounds and 10 assists in the losing effort.
The Nets only shot 38 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 19 times.
The Pacers opened the game with the first eight points and they led the rest of the way.
After leading 23-17 after the first quarter, Indiana posted seven of the first nine points of the second to push its edge to 30-19. Croshere capped off the burst on a three-pointer just about two minutes in.
"(Croshere) gave us big lifts with his outside shooting," said Carlisle
Indiana led 44-34 at the intermission before taking a 66-63 edge into the final 12 minutes.
But right away in the fourth, the Nets cut the deficit to 66-65 on a Jefferson bucket. However, the Pacers responded with a 15-4 run to increase their advantage to 81-69 and they never looked back.
Indiana took three of four from the Nets last season and has won five of the last six meetings...The Nets fell to 6-8 in the Meadowlands this season...It was the first sellout for the Nets this season...Indiana is 7-7 away from home this season.
12/30 23:18:05 ET