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Artest banks 30 as Pacers rip down Nets

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Veteran guard Anthony Johnson made a strong
case for more playing time.

Johnson scored 15 of his 19 points in the third period, shooting
7-of-8 from the field, to help lead the Indiana Pacers to a 102-90
win over the New Jersey Nets on Friday night.

Ron Artest scored a season-high 30 points to lead all scorers.
Artest, who shot 10-for-15 from the field, and Johnson were two of
four Pacers in double figures. Jermaine O'Neal had 20 points and
Stephen Jackson finished with 15.

"He made a point tonight. He was a key part of the game,"
Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said of Johnson, who was pressed into
action with starting guard Jamaal Tinsley slowed by a sinus
infection.

"Tonight was my opportunity to get extended minutes," said
Johnson, who had not taken a shot and played only 14 minutes in the
team's first four games. "I felt I showed that I deserve
minutes."

Vince Carter led the Nets with 18 points. He sat out the fourth
quarter with the outcome all but determined.

Artest and Jackson were perfect from the field in the first
period. Artest hit all five of his shots while scoring 13 points.
Jackson was 4-for-4 in the period and had 10 points as the Pacers
opened a 28-23 advantage.

The Nets, without starting forward Jason Collins, who sat out
because of a muscle strain in his right leg, fell behind by 12
points twice in the second quarter and trailed 53-41 at the break.

Carter was the only Nets player in double figures in the first
half, with 14 points. New Jersey shot only 41.5 percent from the
field and was outrebounded 24-13.

Richard Jefferson, who entered the game with a 23.6 scoring
average, was 1-for-7 in the first half and scored just three
points. He finished with seven. Jefferson, who led the Nets in
rebounding in each of their first five games, also struggled on the
boards and had just two rebounds.

"It was a disappointment and we just didn't come out and play
well. We just missed a lot of shots and it seemed like AJ just took
over the game," Jefferson said.

"I got to give credit to AJ and Artest. We tried to put
pressure on JO (O'Neal) down low, but they just kept hitting their
jumpers," New Jersey's Jason Kidd said.

Indiana extended its lead in the third quarter with the help of
three 3-pointers by Johnson, opening a 25-point advantage at 79-54
on his third and building an 81-54 lead on his jumper with 2:32
remaining in the period.

"We have played enough to know not to play like that," New
Jersey coach Lawrence Frank said. "We weren't able to put together
any defensive pressure. Indiana's got good players. This is the
NBA. They probably have the deepest team in the league."

^Notes:@ Indiana shot a season-high 52.2 percent overall from
the field, and was 10-for-25 from 3-point range. ... Indiana has
won seven of the last 10 games with the Nets, taking a 74-58
advantage in the all-time series. ... Scott Padgett, who started in
place of Collins, had a double-double with a team-high 11 rebounds
and 10 points. In his first four games, Padgett had just two points
and two rebounds in seven minutes.