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Pacers Blast Nets

The offense was struggling, so Indiana turned to its defense.

"Sometimes you have to do that. If you aren't scoring, at least you've got to step it up on the defensive end and keep yourself in the game," said Indiana's Chris Mullin, who had 17 points to help the Pacers defeat New Jersey 93-82 Wednesday night.

Rik Smits led Indiana with 20 points and New Jersey went nearly eight minutes in the second half without a field goal.

It was the fifth straight loss for the Nets and their 11th setback in 12 games.

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  • The Nets shot 32 percent from the field, hitting just 25 of 71 attempts.

    Kendall Gill had a season-high 25 points to lead the Nets and Keith Van Horn had 20, despite getting into early foul trouble that kept him on the bench for 15 minutes of the first half.

    "It was hard to get into the flow of the game in the first half because of foul trouble," Van Horn said. "I played smarter in the second half and kept out of foul trouble. They hit some great shots and we didn't shoot well."

    Indiana was leading 71-61 when the Nets went cold with 2:03 left in the third quarter. New Jersey missed its first six shots as the Pacers took an 82-68 lead on two consecutive jump shots by Travis Best.

    Jayson Williams then hit New Jersey's first field goal of the quarter with 7:03 left and the Nets never drew closer than 10 again as they lost their ninth road game in 10 starts this season.

    "Defensively, I thought we did pretty well," said Indiana coach Larry Bird. "The second half we did a good job at the defensive end."

    Bird was also happy with the team's 48-38 rebounding advantage.

    "They are a great rebounding team. Tonight we won the battle of the boards and that probably won the game for us," he said.

    The Pacers took their biggest lead of the game at 91-74 oa 4-foot jumper by Jalen Rose with 1:16 to play. Rose and Reggie Miller, who tied Magic Johnson for 45th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, had 13 points each.

    "The key to the game," Rose said, "was the second half because we really got at them at the defensive end."

    The Pacers posted a 13-5 rebounding advantage in the first quarter and used a 10-2 run to lead 27-16. Gill then shot the Nets back into the game with 10 of his 18 first-half points in the second quarter, which ended with the Pacers leading 49-46.

    Notes: Van Horn scored in double figures for the 18th consecutive game this season ... The Nets used their eighth different starting unit of the season, with Jim McIlvaine making his first start of the season ... Miller had nine of his points in the game's opening seven minutes before leaving the game with a laceration above the left eye. He did not need any stitches and returned in the second quarter ... Williams had his sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds ... The Pacers matched their season-high with 48 rebounds ... The game was the third straight at home for Indiana in a six-game streak ... Miller has 17,707 career points.

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