NBA Game Summary - Indiana at Orlando
(Wednesday, November 2nd)
Final Score: Indiana 90, Orlando 78
Orlando, FL (Sports Network) - Ron Artest had 16 points in his first contest since the infamous brawl last fall, as the Indiana Pacers ran past the Magic, 90-78, in the season opener for both squads at Orlando Arena.
Jermaine O'Neal scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Austin Croshere added 16 points for Indiana, which made 47 percent of its shots.
Artest was playing in his first game since his 73-game suspension from last season. On November 19 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, Artest charged into the crowd after Pistons fans after getting hit with a plastic cup. NBA Commissioner David Stern then suspended Artest for the final 73 games of the 2004-05 season.
"After missing 73 games, the team really stuck in there," Artest said. "The good thing about it is, we are not 100 percent, but we really wanted to win this game and we did."
Stephen Jackson was also suspended for 30 games and O'Neal sat out 15 contests for their involvement in the brawl.
Fans booed Artest at the start of the game, but the forward wasn't fazed, as he played 40 minutes and finished 4-of-14 from the field and 6-of-9 from the foul line.
It also marked the first time since the start of the 1986-87 season that the Pacers didn't have a familiar face in the lineup, as Reggie Miller retired last season after 18 years with the franchise.
Steve Francis paced the Magic with 15 points. Hedo Turkoglu finished with 14 points, while Dwight Howard and DeShawn Stevenson both had 12 in the loss.
Orlando led 22-20 after 12 minutes of play, but lost the lead a few times in the second quarter. Croshere's three-pointer with 3 1/2 minutes left staked Indiana to a 39-34 advantage. He later added a dunk for a 43-36 Indiana cushion, and the Pacers headed to the locker room with a 47-43 lead.
"That team is full of talent," O'Neal said of the Magic. "We really won on the defensive end. If we play together, we can be a tough team this year."
Croshere had 11 points at the break, while Francis paced the Magic with nine points.
Artest converted a three-point play with less than four minutes to go in the third quarter and the Pacers owned a 65-57 lead. Artest then buried a three to make it an 11-point game and Indiana eventually carried a 71-63 advantage into the final stanza.
With about five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, O'Neal sank a basket to give the Pacers a comfortable 81-69 advantage. Orlando never recovered and had its five-game winning streak in season openers come to an end.
"It was great. The fans were great," Artest added. "They were nice boos. They had to do that because they had nothing else to do. I will probably expect it (boos all season), but when I get to the arena and it is time to play, then it will be all about playing basketball."
O'Neal was 8-of-14 from the floor...Croshere made 3-of-5 three-pointers...The Magic had a 38-32 advantage on the boards...Orlando shot 44 percent for the game...Indiana has won six of its last eight at Orlando...Indiana outscored the Magic 42-24 in the paint...Indiana has won its last four season openers.
11/02 23:14:34 ET