Indiana has won 14 of its last 15 regular-season meetings with Miami, including both this season. However, those two wins came when the Pacers had Ron Artest, who averaged 23.0 points in the contests.
Artest is gone now—replaced by Peja Stojakovic—as the new-look Pacers seek consecutive victories for the first time since Feb. 26-March 1.
It marked the first time the starting lineup had O’Neal, Tinsley, Stojakovic and Stephen Jackson in it, a group the Pacers envisioned having on the floor when they dealt Artest.
“It’s hard to double-team us,” Jackson said. “Before Peja came and J.O. came back, I was getting double-teamed. I never thought I’d get double-teamed in my life. But with them out there, it’s easier to beat my man.”
Jackson scored 23 points and Stojakovic added 18 as Indiana completed a three-game homestand with a 2-1 mark and moved into a tie with Washington for fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
“This was a huge win,” Indiana forward Danny Granger said. “It helped us out in confidence and position wise.”
Stojakovic, considered one of the top 3-point shooters in the league, remained in a slump from beyond the arc. He made 1 of 8 3-pointers Sunday and is 2-for-18 over his last four games.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was happy with the win, but not with his team’s season-high 29 turnovers.
“We were sloppy at times offensively,” Carlisle said. “Our turnovers have to come down. Twenty-nine is an epic number.”
“It’s just good to get this win and get ready for Indiana and the next six or seven games that are coming our way,” Heat coach Pat Riley said.
With Alonzo Mourning out due to a partially torn right calf, Michael Doleac is adjusting to his role as O’Neal’s primary backup. Doleac responded with a season-high 14 points on 5-for-8 shooting Friday.
“Guys get hurt and obviously we don’t wish that on anyone,” Doleac said. “It happens, so the team has to step up. It’s an opportunity for me to step up and play and hopefully I can contribute good minutes when I’m in there and hold it down until Zo gets back.”
Miami, which has already clinched a playoff berth, has a magic number of four to clinch the Southeast Division title.