Tuesday, April 01, 2008
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Pacers' O'Neal Returns in Win Over Heat

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[April 01, 2008]  INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jermaine O'Neal scored nine points after sitting out for more than two months with a knee injury, and the Indiana Pacers beat the Miami Heat 105-85 on Monday night.

O'Neal shot 3-for-4 from the field and 3-for-4 from the free-throw line in 18 minutes. He had missed 33 straight games with a bone bruise, and the Pacers went 12-21 during that stretch.

Danny Granger led Indiana with 23 points and Mike Dunleavy added 18 as the Pacers won their second straight and their sixth of eight to remain contenders for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. Indiana entered the game three games behind Atlanta for eighth place in the East.

Daequan Cook led Miami with 16 points and Kasib Powell and Chris Quinn both scored 15. The Heat have the league's worst record (13-61), and remained in danger of producing the worst mark in franchise history. The Heat went 15-67 in their inaugural season in 1988-89.

O'Neal entered the game with 3:12 left in the first quarter and traveled the first time he touched the ball. On the other end, he quickly committed a foul that led to two free throws by Miami's Alexander Johnson.

O'Neal's first basket was a dunk with 11:34 left in the second quarter. He followed that with a mid-range jumper 13 seconds later.

The Pacers led 59-52 early in the third quarter before Granger converted a 3-point play and Jeff Foster made a mid-range jumper that stayed on the rim for a while before rolling in to give the Pacers a 64-52 lead.

O'Neal entered for a second time with 5:10 left in the third quarter, and he helped the Pacers end the period with a 78-65 lead. He left the game for good with 8:05 left and the Pacers holding an 86-70 edge.

Miami's offense remained stagnant. The Boston Celtics limited the Heat to 17 baskets Sunday -- the fewest in the NBA's shot-clock era. Before that, Miami scored 69 points Thursday in a loss to the Detroit Pistons. Against Indiana, the Heat shot 42 percent and failed to reach 100 points for the 15th time in 16 games.

Notes: The Heat re-signed guard Blake Ahearn and forward Stephane Lasme on Monday, giving each a second 10-day contract. The new deals will allow each player to stay with Miami until the final four games of the season, unless the team chooses to sign either for the remainder of the year. ... Cook played for the first time since suffering a concussion on Wednesday against New York. He was listed as a game-time decision on the injury report. ... Pacers F Stephen Graham played after sitting out six straight games. He finished with two points.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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