nets 105, pacers 103
Artest shaky in return
Carlisle 'disappointed' with forward's freelancing
By Mike Wells
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ron Artest didn't want Tuesday's preseason opener against the New Jersey Nets to be a big deal.
He didn't plan on having friends and family members attend the game, although his hometown of Queensbridge, N.Y., is across the Hudson River from Continental Airlines Arena.
But just as his career has gone, nothing went according to plan for Artest.
Artest scrounged up 13 tickets for his family and friends only to have a far from glamorous performance in the Indiana Pacers' 105-103 loss to the Nets.
"I thought Ronnie struggled," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "At times he went away from what we were doing as a team and that disappointed me."
Artest had eight points on 3-for-8 shooting in 12 minutes. All three of his rebounds were offensive.
"I was practicing out there," he said. "I wasn't taking the game too serious out there because that's how the game was going."
Artest's comments of not taking the game seriously aren't what the Pacers want to hear, considering he's essentially been away from the game for a year. He played on the team's summer league squad in Minneapolis against lesser talent, but Tuesday marked the first time since the infamous brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills (Mich.) last November that he played in an organized, competitive game against NBA players.
Artest's stated approach to this season probably won't help him, either.
"I'm still going to be playing hard and wild and out of control like an animal that needs to be caged in," he said before the game. "I'll let the referees handle it."
Despite being without three of the team's key frontcourt players, Artest floated around the perimeter, pulling up for jumpers (0-for-3 on 3-pointers) bringing the ball up the court.
"I was just trying to do what I do," Artest said. "I have to let it come within the offense. I know I can take my man anytime, but that's not what it's about.
"It's an adjustment because when I left last season, it was totally a different style than what it is now. I have to get my timing back and adjust to the new style of play."
Artest received a mixed reaction from the sparse crowd during introductions and there was limited heckling from the fans.
"I'm looking forward to being bashed and cursed out," Artest said about facing unruly fans this season. "That's going to be a lot of fun."
The most animated Artest became was early in the third quarter, when he picked up two quick fouls and a three-seconds violation. Artest questioned, in a conversational tone, referee James Capers after he was called for a hand checking foul on a drive by Vince Carter. Artest left the game for good with 8:53 left in the third quarter.
"I think when I got Defensive Player of the Year I was playing great defense," Artest said. "Last year when they implemented those new rules, I was still playing very good defense. I just have to get adjusted to the NBA style of play. It will be fine because I can still slide my feet."
Artest is going to be in the spotlight throughout the season. Every one of his mishaps is going to be put under a microscope. Artest, however, sees it as a way to promote his second career. Artest plans to release a hip-hop compact disc later this season.
"(Music star) Jay Z, he pays millions of dollars for promotion, and I'm getting it for free," Artest said.