More antics from Artest
Pacers star makes obscene gesture toward crowdPosted: Wednesday April 02, 2003 11:14 PM
Updated: Thursday April 03, 2003 1:28 AM
CLEVELAND (AP) -- As only he can, Ron Artest turned an otherwise boring blowout into another blowup.
Al Harrington scored 24 points, and Artest was up to his usual antics -- pushing players, drawing a technical and enraging the crowd -- while leading the Indiana Pacers to a 103-82 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
In the fourth quarter, Artest, who has been suspended 12 games this season for a variety of bad behavior, made an obscene gesture with both hands to the crowd after being hit by a thrown coin.
"I got hit by a quarter, but I don't care," said Artest, who isn't concerned about another possible suspension. "Nothing happened. I was just playing to the crowd."
The NBA may feel differently after reviewing videotape of Artest's latest outburst. He's been suspended 11 games by the league and one game by the Pacers.
Jonathan Bender added 21 points for Indiana, which snapped an 11-game road losing streak. The Pacers hadn't won on the road since beating New Orleans on Feb. 12.
"It's been a long time," Harrington said. "Hopefully, we can get on a roll now."
The Pacers didn't miss a beat without Jermaine O'Neal, their leading scorer and rebounder, who sat out with a sprained right ankle. Both Harrington and Bender stepped it up and gave Indiana its 10th straight win over the Cavs at Gund Arena. But Artest kept things lively during the fourth quarter of the rout.
With Indiana leading 89-74, he shoved Ricky Davis out of bounds and was assessed a technical foul by referee Tim Donaghy for arguing with 7:27 left.
Artest continued to protest, and when teammate Austin Croshere stepped in to stop him, Artest pushed him and then knocked away Indiana coach Isiah Thomas' arm.
"The referee called a technical on Ron, and Ron wanted to know why," Thomas said. "Ron is like any other player or any other person. When they get upset, they don't want anybody close to them or touching them. I understand it, because I was the same way."
Artest said he and Davis were simply renewing their personal rivalry.
"Every time I play against Ricky, he thinks he's better than me," Artest said.
On Indiana's next possession, Cavs forward Jumaine Jones was hit with a technical and ejected, and as Jones was leaving the floor, Artest extended both middle fingers and waved his arms at the crowd.
During a timeout, Cavs coach Keith Smart told referee Derrick Stafford: "Artest is out of hand."
As the teams returned to the floor, public address announcer Jeff Shreve asked the crowd to refrain from throwing objects -- to the delight of Artest, who sat on the scorer's table patting Shreve on the back as he talked into the microphone.
A few minutes later, during a stoppage in play, Artest ran by and yelled to Shreve, "Thanks for the public announcement."
Cavs forward Darius Miles knows the Pacers rely on Artest's energy and ability to push the emotional envelope.
"He's their Dennis Rodman," Miles said. "He's their John Salley. He's Bill Laimbeer, Rick Mahorn and all those big guys all in one. I don't see anything wrong with it."
Davis scored 27 points for Cleveland, which dropped its fourth straight.
The Cavs (14-60) still need one win to match the franchise low for victories in a season. Cleveland went 15-67 in 1970-71 -- its inaugural season -- and again in 1981-82.
Leading 54-44 at halftime, the Pacers needed just 3:34 to blow it open. Jamaal Tinsley hit a 3-pointer, Artest, Brad Miller and Harrington scored on layups and Reggie Miller buried another 3-pointer from the corner to cap a 12-0 run for Indiana.
O'Neal, the only player in the Eastern Conference averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds, has been playing on a sore ankle since injuring it early last month on a West Coast trip.
Harrington scored 17 points in the first half to help the Pacers open a 54-44 lead at the break.
"It was good for my confidence to have a game like that," Harrington said. "I'd been struggling."
Notes: The Pacers are 28-4 when scoring at least 100 points. ... Indiana went 4-0 vs. Cleveland this season. ... Rookie Carlos Boozer, one of the few bright spots for the Cavs this season, averaged 12.7 points and 8.6 rebounds in 14 games last month. "March Madness," said Smart. "He hasn't hit the wall. He's played consistently throughout the year." ... Smart's future with the Cavs remains uncertain, but he's not going to worry about whether he'll be retained. He won't talk to GM Jim Paxson until the season ends. "If the door closes, I know another will open somewhere along the line."