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Portland 95, Indiana 88

  |   March 18, 2003 at 5:51 AM
INDIANAPOLIS, March 17 (UPI) -- Arvydas Sabonis scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter Monday night as the Portland Trail Blazers salvaged the finale of a three-game road trip with a 95-88 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

Indiana was without 7-foot center Brad Miller, who was sidelined with a sore left knee. Without the inside presence of their starting big man, the Pacers could not keep Sabonis from taking over down the stretch.

"Some nights coach wants me to be more aggressive and score more points," Sabonis said. "Sometimes it is difficult. Tonight was more comfortable."

Sabonis, who made 13-of-15 shots in his previous three games, was 5-of-9 from the floor, including 4-of-7 in the fourth quarter. He made 6-of-8 free throws, and had seven rebounds and four blocks.

"He was big for us -- scoring, rebounding, blocking some shots," said Portland Coach Maurice Cheeks. "He got our game ball tonight."

Portland led by as many as 17 points, but Indiana used a 15-2 run bridging the final two quarters and took a 70-69 lead on Ron Artest's 3-pointer with 9:32 remaining.

Rasheed Wallace buried a 3-pointer to give the Blazers the lead for good at 75-74 with 7:07 to go and Sabonis was unstoppable in the final six minutes.

The 38-year-old Lithuanian converted a three-point play with 5:44 to go and assisted on a layup by Wallace 61 seconds later. He scored the next five points for Portland and buried four free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.

Ruben Patterson scored 15 points and Wallace and Damon Stoudamire each had 14 for Portland, which has won four of its last six games.

Jermaine O'Neal had 31 points and 12 rebounds for Indiana, but struggled to guard Sabonis and fouled out with 57 seconds remaining.

"We just can't let teams get us down big like we did in the first half," O'Neal said. "We can't let things like that happen."

Portland had a 67-55 cushion with 51 seconds left in the third quarter, but Indiana scored 15 of the next 17 points, highlighted by six from O'Neal.

The Blazers led, 51-34, with 56 seconds left in the first half.

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