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Pacers fall into tie for East's last playoff spot

4/5/2002

ATLANTA (AP) -- Reggie Miller didn't become the NBA's all-time leading 3-point shooter by lacking confidence. His game-winner fell short Thursday night, but at least Miller wasn't afraid to shoot it.

Miller missed a fadeaway 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Atlanta
Hawks beat Indiana 95-94, sending the Pacers to their fifth loss in
six games.

Coach Isiah Thomas drew up a play that called for Austin
Croshere to make an inbounds pass to Miller at the top of the key
and for Miller to exchange a give-and-go with Jermaine O'Neal.

After a screen freed Miller of defender Ira Newble, he got the ball back on the right side of the key and shot over Nazr Mohammed.

"I knew I was going to get a pretty good look," Miller said. "I was maybe a step further out that I would have liked, but it was still a pretty good look."

Indiana, which never led, fell into a tie with Toronto for the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Raptors, 2-0 against Indiana this season, play the Pacers on Sunday at Toronto and again Wednesday in Indianapolis.

"A game of this magnitude, that we desperately need, we needed
to come out like they came out," Miller said after scoring 19
points and going 3-for-9 on 3-point attempts. "We tied it a couple
of times down the stretch but any time on the road when you're
fighting to get back from double-digit leads, it takes too much out
of you, especially down the stretch."

Mohammed scored 18 points and Jason Terry added 17 to lead the
Hawks, who avoided being swept by Indiana for first time since
1976-77, the Pacers' first NBA season.

Atlanta had a seven-point lead with 10:31 remaining after Terry fed Shareef Abdur-Rahim for a dunk that turned into a three-point play.

"Everybody contributed," Terry said. "If we can get five guys in double figures, I'll guarantee you that we'll get a win. There's not many times that we'll lose the game in that situation."

Hawks coach Lon Kruger, whose team led by as many as 14 points
following Abdur-Rahim's 20-foot jumper with 3:58 left in the third,
attributed the win to Atlanta's defense. Indiana, which shot 46.2
percent in beating the Hawks in their previous three meetings this
season, shot just 38.4, including 33.3 in the fourth quarter.

"They're a tough, physical ballclub," Kruger said. "A tough matchup for us. That was a big stop there at the end. Nazr and Ira both did a really good job on that play. They communicated."

The Pacers tied it twice in the fourth quarter. O'Neal, who had
game-highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds, hit two free throws to
make it 84-84 with 4:25 remaining.

Kevin Ollie followed 2:06 later with a pair of free throws to
tie it at 90-90, but the Hawks answered with a 3-pointer from
Terry. After the teams each hit two foul shots on their next two
possessions, Ron Artest hit two free throws to end the scoring with
1:09 remaining.

Terry missed a runner off the glass in an attempt to draw a
foul, and the Pacers got a rebound from Ollie and called timeout
with 9.9 seconds to go.

"I wanted to get the ball in Reggie's hands and have him come off a screen," Thomas said. "If he had the shot, take it. If not, get O'Neal rolling down inside. The first option was Reggie. I just wanted to make sure he got the basketball. It was a wide-open shot. He had a wide-open look."

Game notes
Pacers forward Ron Mercer missed his third straight game
with back spasms. ... O'Neal, a 66 percent foul shooter, hit 12 of
13. ... Indiana had won four straight and nine of 12 over the
Hawks. ... Atlanta has won two straight after beating Milwaukee
100-92 to end a three-game losing streak Tuesday.