- The Washington Times - Friday, December 28, 2001

Seen and heard last night at Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis:
CLIMBING THE LADDER Indiana coach Isiah Thomas is always high on his players. The last time the Wizards were in town, he praised rookie point guard Jamaal Tinsley, who then went out and amassed 23 assists in a Thanksgiving Day victory. He gushed about power forward Jermaine O'Neal, who was masquerading as a center. O'Neal just won NBA Player of the Week honors.
Thomas called O'Neal the best big man in the Eastern Conference and ranked him behind only Shaquille O'Neal who he said is on a level of his own Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett.
He may have a legitimate point. O'Neal like the Wizards' Kwame Brown a player who jumped directly from high school to the pros had averaged 23.4 points to raise his scoring average from 16.8 points to a team-high 19.3. And 10 of his 13 double-doubles have come in the last 15 games.
"He's a special player," Thomas said. "He's done a lot of the things that we figured that he would be able to do once he got comfortable playing the center position."
Thomas hopes to one day be able to move O'Neal to power forward, which will only happen if the Pacers acquire a center.
MILESTONE ON THE HORIZON Michael Jordan went into the game just 117 points away from becoming the fourth player in league history to score 30,000 points. Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Karl Malone have reached the plateau.
John N. Mitchell

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