Hornets 89, Pacers 75
Robert Traylor had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Hornets, who outrebounded the lackadaisical Pacers 56-38 and were the aggressors from the opening tip.
“They played a dominant game,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Physically, they pounded us.”
The Pacers tied a season low in shooting 33 percent from the floor, including 4-for-22 from 3-point range, and were outscored 44-20 in the paint.
The last time these two teams met, the Pacers’ Al Harrington and the Hornets’ George Lynch and Jamaal Magloire were ejected for fighting. Harrington and Lynch were the primary participants, and Magloire was ejected for diving into the pile. All three players were fined $10,000.
After that game, which Indiana won 91-84, the Hornets complained that the Pacers committed cheap shots, and vowed to be more intense the next time around.
They asserted themselves early Tuesday, taking the ball hard to the basket and controlling the offensive and defensive boards.
“We wanted to come out and be aggressive on both ends of the floor,” Traylor said. “This is the time when things get really going. For us, we really need to come out and make a statement. Tonight was a big night for us.”
Davis was the initiator for much of the team’s success. Time and again he got to basket easily and either finished the drive himself or found teammates for easy baskets.
“That was the key to this victory—those easy buckets we were getting,” Davis said.
Things didn’t come nearly as easily for the Pacers, who couldn’t hit the open shots and gave an uninspired performance on both ends of the floor. Jermaine O’Neal was double-teamed nearly every time he touched the ball, and led Indiana with 17 points.
“When you get outrebounded by close to 20, you’ve got 17 turnovers and you shoot 30 percent, you’ve got to go back to basics—moving the basketball, get our offense moving crisper and cleaner, get our legs under us,” Reggie Miller said.
Indiana forward Ron Artest was benched for the start of the game for missing a practice on Monday night. Artest missed the workout because he did not return in time from Sunday night’s All-Star game in Los Angeles.
Harrington started in his place, and was replaced by Artest with 5:37 to play in the first quarter. Artest shot just 1-for-10 from the field, but was 11-for-16 on free throws to finish with 13 points.
“Distractions don’t help the situation,” Carlisle said. “But this thing tonight can’t be blamed on one guy. We all own it.”
After shooting 52 percent in the second quarter to take a 53-45 halftime lead, New Orleans opened the third quarter with a 12-4 run to take control.
Magloire had four points and Mashburn scored six during the run to give the Hornets a 65-49 lead.
Magloire finished with 11 points and nine rebounds before fouling out late in the game.
It’s exactly the way the Hornets, who are as healthy as they’ve been all season, wanted to start after the All-Star break, as they begin digging out of what is now a 9 1/2 -game hole in the Central Division.
“We’re better than what our record shows,” Davis said. “With me and Mashhealthy, we’re going to be a team to reckoned with in the East.”
Pacers G Fred Jones received a loud ovation before the game for winning the slam dunk championship Saturday during All Star Weekend. … Hornets coach Tim Floyd said injured G David Wesley was still at least a week away from being ready to play. Wesley was placed on the injured list Jan. 17 with a sprained right ankle. … Carlisle was given a technical foul at 5:14 of the first whilearguing for a foul call on Harrington.