Pacers 87, Rockets 74

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HOUSTON (AP)—After a brief stretch of success, the Houston Rockets have regressed—especially on defense.

Jamaal Tinsley scored 28 points, including six during a key 10-0 run in the fourth quarter, and Jermaine O’Neal added 27 as the Indiana Pacers beat the Rockets 87-74 Tuesday night.

After beating Dallas and San Antonio with strong defense during a four-game win streak from Jan. 9 to Jan. 16, the Rockets allowed Memphis and Indiana to hit better than 50 percent from the field in losses Monday and Tuesday.

“It’s crazy how we play great defense against Dallas and San Antonio, then come out and play the way we have the last two nights,” said Tracy McGrady, who had 28 points. “I think we need a little bit more pride. We don’t feel too good about ourselves right now. We have to keep digging and take individual pride in ourselves on defense.”

The 10-0 run came after a 63-63 tie with 9:31 to play, and the Pacers led by at least six the rest of the way.

Yao Ming added 21 points for the Rockets.

Houston had six turnovers the first six minutes of the game and fell behind 12-5. O’Neal scored nine straight points in one stretch as the Pacers widened the lead to 19-9. They settled for a 21-13 advantage after one quarter as O’Neal had 13 points.

Tinsley took over the offense in the second quarter, scoring the Pacers’ first 10 points. He and O’Neal each had 15 at the half as Indiana led 42-38.

Late in the third quarter, Houston went on a 9-0 run, the first seven points all on free throws, to tie it at 57 with 1:43 left in the period. O’Neal hit a 20-footer at the buzzer to give Indiana a 61-59 lead after three.

Tinsley went 5-for-6 on 3-pointers to help make up for the lack of a consistent outside scoring threat—a deficiency that will be erased when Stephen Jackson returns next week after serving a 30-game suspension.

“We just want to continue to get better, be competitive and be in the running for the division championship when we get everybody back,” O’Neal said. “We have to play the cards that were dealt us.

“Jamaal does a lot to keep defenses balanced. He’s one of the best in the game at making plays and getting his shots off. It’s coming. We’re not where we want to be. We’ve been sidetracked a bit but we still feel we can compete for a championship when we get our guys back.”

Houston shot just 1-of-13 on 3-point shots, a season low, while Indiana was 8-of-12.

“Neither team played their best,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “But we were able to keep ahead despite our turnovers. We hit our 3s, either to keep us even or give us the lead. I think we hit eight 3s and they hit one. That was the difference.”


The Rockets played without forward Maurice Taylor, who was placed on the injured list with the flu. … It was Rockets Go Retro night, and the team wore the red and gold uniforms from the 1971-72 season, the team’s first in Houston. … The Rockets activated forward Clarence Weatherspoon, who had been on the injured list since Jan. 2 with a right calf strain. … After losing at Memphis on Monday, Houston is 5-4 on the first night of back-to-backs and 4-5 on the second nights.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
J. O'Neal J. O'Neal
12-26,  27 Pts
7 Rebs, 3 Assists
T. McGrady T. McGrady
13-27,  28 Pts
6 Rebs, 4 Assists

Team Stat Leaders