Mon, May 24, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Pacer's Miller gets three when it counts the most

AP , INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

Reggie Miller's one and only basket of the game came when the Indiana Pacers needed it most.

After missing his first six shots, Miller drilled a 3-pointer with 31.7 seconds left. The shot broke the game's final tie and led Indiana past Detroit 78-74 Saturday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

With the score tied at 74, Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal missed a difficult turnaround jumper from the left baseline. Jeff Foster tipped the rebound to a teammate, and the Pacers had another chance.

Miller popped free off a screen set by Foster, took a pass from Jamaal Tinsley and buried his 3 to make it 77-74.

"All I need is to have a half-second of daylight," Miller said.

Hamilton missed a 3-pointer for Detroit and O'Neal was fouled on the rebound with 19.8 seconds left, but he missed both foul shots to give the Pistons another chance. But Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace missed 3-point attempts, and Miller made the second of two free throws with 6.6 seconds left to seal Indiana's 14th consecutive home victory.

Game 2 is Monday night.

Miller helped the Pacers overcome a fourth-quarter offensive drought in which they were held scoreless for a stretch of nearly four minutes by Detroit's intense defense.

O'Neal led Indiana with 21 points and 14 rebounds, Ron Artest scored 17, Al Harrington had 14 and Tinsley 13.

Hamilton scored 23, Billups had 18 and Ben Wallace added 11 points and 22 rebounds for the Pistons, who got little (four points, five fouls, three turnovers) from Rasheed Wallace.

Indiana won despite being held to 13 points in the third quarter and 17 in the fourth.

The Pacers were ahead 48-41 at halftime behind 14 points from Harrington and 13 from O'Neal. Billups and Hamilton accounted for 10 of Detroit's 17 first-half field goals, with Rasheed Wallace going just 1-for-2 and grabbing only one rebound.

Detroit blocked seven shots in the first quarter and made 63 percent of its attempts to open an early nine-point lead, forcing Indiana to miss 16 of 19 shots over one stretch.

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