INDIANAPOLIS -- The Washington Bullets remain winless in December.
The Indiana Pacers worked inside early and outside late to hand the Bullets their eighth consecutive loss, 106-87, last night at Market Square Arena.
Inside, 7-foot-4 center Rik Smits and 6-11 forward Dale Davis dominated the Bullets, especially in the early going. Smits scored 18 of his 22 points in the first half and Davis had 10 points (of 15) and eight rebounds (of 12) before the intermission.
In the second half, the Indiana guards took control. Reggie Miller scored 12 points in a span of less than three minutes in the third quarter and finished with 21 points and 10 assists. Recently signed guard Byron Scott scored Indiana's first nine points of the fourth period and finished with 16.
Indiana, which still is better on the road than at home, improved to8-11.
Rex Chapman led the Bullets (6-14), who also have lost eight consecutive road games, with 18 points. Tom Gugliotta added 14 points and eight rebounds.
The Bullets hit just 36.4 percent from the field.
Crowd favorite Calbert Cheaney, a rookie from Indiana University, appeared before an appreciative home crowd, scoring 11 points.
Cheaney provided the Bullets with their only spark in the fourth period after both teams went scoreless for well over two minutes. Cheaney hit six of Washington's first eight points to bring the Bullets within 92-78 with 7:10 left.
Indiana responded with seven straight points -- all by Scott and Miller -- to seal the game at 99-78 with 5:21 to go.
Two Washington cold spells and soft interior defense allowed the Pacers to lead 58-45 at halftime.
Indiana ran 10 straight points to take a 16-6 lead as the Bullets missed seven straight shots during the three-minute span in the first quarter.
The Bullets responded with seven straight points, including five from Chapman, to get within 16-13 at the five-minute mark.
But Indiana again surged with six straight points later in the quarter as it took a 30-23 lead.
Cheaney received a standing ovation from the Market Square Arena crowd of 11,015 when he reported to start the second period. He failed to spark the Bullets in the first half, however, hitting one basket while playing the entire quarter.
Washington failed to hit a shot from the field in the opening four minutes of the period, missing four and committing two turnovers as the Pacers took a 39-25 lead on Sam Mitchell's layup with 8:08 remaining.
Eight straight Washington points, capped by dunks by Kenny Walker and Chapman, over a span of 1:16 brought the Bullets within 41-35 with 6:03 left in the quarter.
Indiana shoved the ball inside to Smits the rest of the period, and he scored eight of his 18 first-half points in the final five minutes as the Pacers ran the lead to 58-45.
The Bullets shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the half, and grabbed 20 rebounds to Indiana's 29.
The teams traded baskets for the first six minutes of the third quarter, but Miller put the Bullets away with a three-point barrage.
He hit a three-pointer with 6:06 to go, added a three-point play at the 5:33 mark and hit three-pointers with 4:34 and 3:13 to go as he led a 14-4 run to give Indiana an 84-62 advantage. The Bullets committed four turnovers as the Pacers pulled away.
Indiana ran the lead to 88-65 before the Bullets scored the final five points of the quarter to trail 88-70 entering the fourth period.