Pacers survive Heat; Shaq sprains his ankle

By wire services
Published November 4, 2005

MIAMI - Jermaine O'Neal was celebrating. Shaquille O'Neal was on crutches.

A look at either O'Neal told the story Thursday night.

Indiana's O'Neal scored 27, six in the final three minutes to help the Pacers recover from wasting a 14-point second-half lead and beat the Heat 105-102.

"There were a lot of times we could have broken down," said Ron Artest, who added 22 points for the Pacers, who have won 13 of their past 14 regular-season meetings with the Heat. "But we didn't. We stayed together throughout this whole game."

Shaquille O'Neal sprained his right ankle midway through the fourth; X-rays were negative, but coach Stan Van Gundy expects his center, who had 18 points and six rebounds, "to miss some time. "We've got three veteran guys out; now we've got four," Van Gundy said of Michael Doleac (back), Shandon Anderson (back) and James Posey (thumb). "The young guys are going to have to step up."

Dwyane Wade had 31 points and 10 assists for the Heat, but his 3-pointer to tie rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.

The Heat led for only 19 seconds, scoring the opening basket, but still had chances to win its home opener.

Miami forced Indiana into 10 straight missed shots over a nine-minute stretch of the second half, allowing the Heat to claw back from a 73-59 deficit. And a 14-6 run in the fourth drew Miami into a tie at 93. It could've been even better. Gary Payton made a layup and was fouled by Jamaal Tinsley to get Miami within 93-92. Tinsley was whistled for a technical, and Wade made that free throw to tie it - but Payton missed the one that would have put Miami ahead.

That was a theme for the Heat: Miami was 27-for-42 from the free-throw line, plus committed 17 turnovers that Indiana turned into 20 points.

STERN WISHES ARTEST WELL: Count commissioner David Stern among those happy to see Ron Artest playing again.

They met briefly before the Pacers' game, the second the forward has played in since completing his nearly yearlong suspension stemming from last season's brawl with fans at Detroit.

"I think he's a great player and I hope he has an All-Star season," Stern said. "I wished him well before, visited him a bit."

Artest was greeted by lusty boos from the soldout Miami crowd, something he knows will be commonplace throughout the season. He insists crowd reaction won't faze him, but acknowledged he was curious how Stern will be received when he visits Indiana.

"Indiana fans can't wait to see him," he said.

Artest was suspended for the final 73 regular-season games, plus the playoffs, after running into the stands after a fan who he thought tossed a drink cup in his face in the Nov. 19 game at Detroit.

But it doesn't sound like Artest is harboring any resentment toward Stern, who levied a punishment that caused him to miss about $5-million in paychecks.

"He's a cool cat," Artest said before the game. "I think he's from the 'hood."

"Neither my wife nor my two sons would agree with that," countered Stern of the "cool" assessment. "In fact, they would take strong issue with it."

DENVER PG ARRESTED: Nuggets point guard Andre Miller was arrested on a warrant for failing to appear in court on a traffic citation, Denver police said. He was released and played in Wednesday's game against the Lakers.

CLIPPERS: A judge ordered owner and real estate mogul Donald T. Sterling to pay nearly $5-million in fees to plaintiffs' attorneys in a lawsuit accusing him of discriminating against black and Latino tenants. U.S. District Judge Dale Fisher's ordered Sterling to compensate plaintiffs' attorneys in a 2003 lawsuit alleging Sterling tried to drive out non-Korean tenants, particularly blacks and Latinos, at apartments he owned in Los Angeles' Koreatown neighborhood.

PACERS: Reggie Miller's No. 31 will be retired on March 30 when the team hosts the Suns.

Late Wednesday:

Phil-Kobe show takes off

DENVER - What a great start. What a great finish.

Kobe Bryant made Phil Jackson's second debut with the Lakers a smashing success, hitting a long jumper with 0.6 seconds left in overtime to lift Los Angeles to a 99-97 victory over the Nuggets.

"The win wasn't important for me, it was important for the team," Jackson said. "But getting the win is twice as nice."

Bryant finished with 33 points, including eight in overtime. After he swished in the winner, he clenched his fist and ran to the other end of the court, chest-bumping with teammate Devean George to celebrate his opening-night thriller.

After a timeout, Denver's Voshon Lenard had a good look at a 3 at the buzzer, but it missed. "We had some luck with us," Jackson said.

Bryant's big shot was his second chance at a winner.

After trailing 89-84 late in regulation, the Lakers scored five straight and got the ball back. Bryant went one on one and had a decent look at a long jumper, but it rimmed off at the buzzer.

At the end of the overtime, Los Angeles' original play was for the shot to go to center Kwame Brown, who had a mismatch on Eduardo Najera. Brown missed, though, and when Bryant won the fight for the rebound, there was little doubt who was taking the next shot. "He got a good shot on the move and does what he does great - shooting those kinds of shots when he's under duress," Jackson said.