Pacers 116, Milwaukee 99
O'Neal pours in 55, leads Pacers over Bucks
Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal (7) puts up a shot against Milwaukee Bucks forward Marcus Fizer during the second quarter today in Indianapolis. -- John Harrell / Associated Press
By Jon Krawczynski
January 4, 2005
Jermaine O'Neal scored a career-high and NBA season-high 55 points and had 11 rebounds to carry the Indiana Pacers to a 116-99 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.
The All-Star has made an immediate impact since an arbitrator reduced his 25-game suspension for fighting with Detroit fans to 15 games, with Indiana going 4-1.
O'Neal's 55 bested Allen Iverson's 54 points on Dec. 18, also against the Bucks.
He shot 18-for-28 from the field and 19-of-25 from the line, just missing George McInnis' franchise record of 58 points, set while the Pacers were in the ABA in 1972. O'Neal's 25 free throw attempts were also a franchise record.
An exhausted O'Neal left the game to a standing ovation with 1:43 remaining.
It almost wasn't enough against the balanced Bucks.
Desmond Mason scored 21 points to lead five Bucks in double figures. Michael Redd added 19 points and Mike James scored 15.
Milwaukee hung with O'Neal by getting to the free throw line. The Bucks hit 18 of 20 free throws in the first half and shot 52 percent from the floor to trail 55-52 at halftime.
Erick Strickland's jumper pulled the Bucks within two with just under nine minutes to play, but that was as close as they would get.
O'Neal scored eight points during a 17-6 run that allowed the Pacers to pull away and win their fourth game in a row.
Jamaal Tinsley had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Jeff Foster added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.
But the night belonged to O'Neal from the opening tip. He scored the Pacers' first 14 points en route to 29 in the first half, dominating a Bucks' front line that lost center Dan Gadzuric to back spasms in the first quarter.
He scored at will and from all over the court, draining 15-foot jumpers and turnarounds from the baseline and throwing down explosive dunks.
The highlight of the performance came in the third quarter when O'Neal took the ball on the low block, bulled over Joe Smith and dunked to start a 15-4 run and help Indiana take control.
He scored 19 points in the first, 10 in the second, 18 in the third quarter and capped his stellar night with eight in the fourth to hold off the Bucks.
It took O'Neal less than three quarters to surpass his previous career-high of 39 points set on Nov. 12 against Philadelphia. Notes: Reggie Miller scored 57 against Charlotte in 1992 for the team's NBA record. ... It wasn't the first time a Pacers player scored 19 points in a quarter against the Bucks this season. Miller scored 19 in the fourth quarter on Dec. 7. ... Mo Williams was assessed a flagrant foul in the third quarter when he fouled Tinsley on a breakaway. The two tangled briefly, but officials stepped in to prevent a fight. ... It was the 16th time the Bucks allowed more than 100 points. They fell to 2-14 in those games.