CLEVELAND - As only he can, Ron Artest turned an otherwise boring blowout into another blowup.
The Carlos Boozer Archive
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.
Ricky Davis scored 27 points to lead Cleveland, while rookie power forward Carlos Boozer of Juneau added 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists as the only other double-figure scorer for the Cavs.
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," Smart said. "He hasn't hit the wall. He's played consistently throughout the year."
Artest kept things lively during the fourth quarter of the rout.
With Indiana leading 89-74, he shoved 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."
On Indiana's next possession, Cavs forward Jumaine Jones was hit with a technical and ejected, and as Jones was leaving the floor, Artest was struck by the coin, and he 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."
The Cavs (14-60) still need one win to match the franchise low for victories in a season.
Raptors 89, Pistons 78
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Vince Carter scored 18 points and Jerome Williams had 11 points and 16 rebounds as Toronto ended a seven-game road losing streak.
76ers 108, Bulls 101
PHILADELPHIA - Allen Iverson had 24 points and a season-high 12 assists, leading Philadelphia to a victory over Chicago.
Kenny Thomas added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Sixers, 20-5 since the All-Star break.
Celtics 90, Heat 62
BOSTON - Paul Pierce scored 28 points and the Boston Celtics coasted as the Heat tied their lowest-scoring game of the season.
Timberwolves 91, SuperSonics 86
MINNEAPOLIS - Troy Hudson scored 31 points and Kevin Garnett added 20. Hudson, Minnesota's streaky point guard, fell three points short of his career high of 34.
Kings 105, Wizards 99
WASHINGTON - Chris Webber torched his old team again for 28 points, nine rebounds and six assists as the Kings took control in the second quarter. Sacramento reduced its magic number to one to clinch the Pacific Division.
Jerry Stackhouse scored 27 points for Washington. Michael Jordan, playing almost nonstop in his bid to get to the playoffs one last time, scored 17 points and played 33 of the game's first 34 minutes and 42 minutes total.
Bucks 106, Rockets 99
MILWAUKEE - Sam Cassell scored 20 points as the Bucks erased a 13-point deficit. The victory moved Milwaukee (37-39) two games ahead of Washington in the race for the Eastern Conference eighth playoff spot. The Wizards lost to Sacramento.
Spurs 105, Grizzlies 87
MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Tim Duncan scored 33 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, leading an inside dominance by San Antonio.
Duncan connected on 13 of 16 shots from the field as the Spurs won their seventh straight game. Memphis, meanwhile, is in a tailspin, losing seven of its last eight.
Hornets 106, Nets 97
NEW ORLEANS - The Hornets clinched their fourth straight playoff spot. Jamal Mashburn scored 24 points, Baron Davis and George Lynch each added 19. The victory, along with Sacramento's win at Washington, advanced the Hornets to the playoffs.
Knicks 83, Nuggets 75
DENVER - Allan Houston had 27 points and Latrell Sprewell added 16. New York ended a three-game losing streak to remain 3 1/2 games behind Milwaukee for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with seven games left.
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