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Inside Job Ends Maverick Streak

After winning 14 in a row to start season, Dallas can't stop Pacers from attacking down low in 110-98 loss.

November 29, 2002|From Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Maverick owner Mark Cuban bit his lower lip as he walked off the court, wearing a look of dejection and disappointment for the first time since last spring.

Unbeaten no more, Dallas was denied a spot in the NBA record book Thursday night by an Indiana Pacer team that showed why it has the best record in the East.

Repeatedly working the ball inside to take advantage of its low-post talent, Indiana got 26 points from Jermaine O'Neal and inspired efforts from Al Harrington, Brad Miller and Ron Artest to defeat the Mavericks, 110-98.

The Pacers prevented Dallas (14-1) from matching the 1948-49 Washington Capitols and 1993-94 Houston Rockets for the best start to a season in NBA history -- 15-0.

"They could have made history tonight, and I don't think anybody wanted history to be made against us," Artest said. "So that probably gave us a little extra boost."

Artest scored 20 points, including Indiana's first 10, while Harrington scored 21 on nine-of-12 shooting and Miller had 16 on seven-of-eight shooting.

O'Neal grabbed 18 rebounds and Artest had 10, helping the Pacers to a 54-36 advantage on the boards as Indiana improved the East's best record to 12-2.

The Pacers went straight to the basket right from the beginning, with Artest scoring their first 10 points -- eight on layups, the other two on free throws after he was fouled underneath.

Dallas used an 11-2 run to erase an early 10-point deficit and take a 24-23 lead, but the Mavericks weren't able to keep the momentum. Reggie Miller made a three-point basket and then scored on a layup off a steal by Artest to make it 47-39.

"We knew we had to be tough inside to beat this team. We controlled the game from start to finish," O'Neal said.

Artest made a three-pointer early in the third for a 68-55 lead, and O'Neal closed the quarter with an alley-oop dunk off a pass from Harrington for an 84-69 lead.

"We didn't have a lot left in the tank, as you could tell," Maverick Coach Don Nelson said.

Steve Nash had a personal 7-0 run early in the fourth to pull Dallas to 88-80, but Dallas then dropped into a tight 2-3 zone and left Reggie Miller wide open at the three-point line for a 24-footer that made it 91-80.

Dallas got no closer than eight the rest of the way.

"There are only so many statement games in this league, and this was one of them," Reggie Miller said. "When the rest of your peers are watching, you want to play well."

Nash led the Mavericks with 29 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki shot only four for 20, Michael Finley was seven for 20 and the Mavericks shot 38%, compared with Indiana's 54%.

The Mavericks' unbeaten streak will go down as the second-longest to start a season in league history, tied with the 1957-58 Boston Celtics.

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