O’Neal matched a career high with 38 points and pulled down 18 rebounds as the Pacers rallied from a 19-point deficit for a 101-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
The 6-11 O’Neal had 22 points and 10 boards in the second half as the Pacers extended their home winning streak against the Grizzlies to seven games.
“He’s getting to the point where he’s getting scary,” Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said. “Tonight he put us on his back and we rode him for as far as we could go. He was fantastic. It was the most dominant game he has had here. He just took over the game.”
Indiana climbed into third place in the Eastern Conference, one-half game in front of Philadelphia.
“This is a game we definitely wanted to win,” O’Neal said. “These are games we should be picking up here at home. Especially with games against New Jersey and Detroit in the future, we wanted to come in with a winning attitude to get back into the mix.”
Memphis led by 12 points at halftime and by 19 midway through the third quarter, but Reggie Miller scored 10 of his 14 points in a 24-6 run that got Indiana within 76-75.
O’Neal made the first two baskets of the fourth quarter to open a three-point lead for the Pacers, who completed a 3-1 homestand.
“It was a pride thing,” O’Neal said. “The first half was totally unacceptable. Even though we came into the second half and got down 19, we never gave up.”
On Wednesday, O’Neal had 18 points and 12 boards in a 102-72 rout of Boston.
“The 19 turnovers were very big,” Memphis coach Hubie Brown said. “We were not happy with our defense. Give them a lot of credit for scoring 17 of 19 times (in the third). That’s hard to do in this league, especially if you’re behind.”
Memphis points guard Jason Williams chipped in 10 points and 15 assists without a turnover.
Reggie Miller scored the first seven points during the third-quarter surge, nailing a 3-pointer, a 20-foot jumper and a pair of free throws to make it 70-58 with 5:07 remaining.
“We were getting embarrassed on our home court,” the veteran shooting guard said. “We are trying to get one of the top three spots in the East and we laid an egg for 2 1/2 quarters. Our defense picked up and we hit some shots.”
O’Neal made two baskets before Reggie Miller converted a three-point play as Indiana pulled within five.
Tinsley registered seven of his 10 assists in the third quarter and Strickland finished with eight as Indiana had both point guards on the floor during their comeback.
“We’re both playmakers and I think it really helped us get the ball moving faster in our offense,” Strickland said. “After getting down so big early in the third, we just took it upon ourselves to get the offense going. And I think with both of us in there the offense really got clicking.”
Memphis’ Lorenzen Wright converted a three-point play. But O’Neal dunked and converted 1-of-2 from the line around a 3-pointer by Austin Croshere to cap the outburst and pull the Pacers within 76-75 heading to the final period.
The Grizzlies fell to 2-13 all-time against Indiana after winning the previous two meetings.
On February 18, Memphis edged Indiana in overtime, 108-103, despite a 3-pointer at the end of regulation by Reggie Miller.