<
>

Miller upstages MJ with 25-point effort

11/30/2002

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- As Reggie Miller hit his third 3-pointer in 50 seconds, he backpedaled on defense and stared at Michael Jordan, who was sitting on the baseline.

What Miller couldn't say with words, he said with his eyes: Come out and play.

"I would never say that to the all-time greatest player ... ever,'' Miller said with a laugh. "But I was thinking it.''

The 37-year-old Miller scored 17 of his 25 points in the decisive third quarter, and Ron Artest added 21 as the Indiana Pacers beat the Washington Wizards 100-84 Friday night.

The Pacers, who have the best record in the Eastern Conference at 13-2, made 35 of 36 free throws and improved to 9-1 at home.

With the Pacers down by six in the third, Miller pump-faked an oncoming Larry Hughes and made a 3-pointer and the free throw to make it 61-59. Miller then hit 3s on the next two possessions for a 65-64 lead.

After the third one, Washington followed with a shot clock
violation that sent the first sold out Conseco Fieldhouse crowd of
the season into a frenzy.

Then Jordan, who will turn 40 in February and said Thursday
there was "zero chance'' he will play next season, returned.

He hit a jumper for a 66-65 lead, Miller answered with two free
throws and Jordan, who scored 14 points in 30 minutes, hit another
18-footer. But that was Washington's last lead.

"He makes the big shots. He changes the momentum of the game,'' Jordan said. "They went from eight points down in the third to six points up. It was all from his play.''

Artest sank the go-ahead free throws to make it 69-68 and then Miller -- of course -- nailed another 3 as the Pacers ended the third ahead 78-73.

"Someone had to do something,'' Miller said. "It was my night tonight and things were going for me. I just did enough for us to get back in the game and the young guys took over.''

Miller started the season on the injured list with a bone bruise
on his right ankle. He was activated Tuesday and had scored only 23
points in two games.

"I'm really tired,'' Miller said. "My ankle will never be the same until the surgery after the season. Whatever they're getting from me is all from the man upstairs.''

After playing 25 minutes Thursday, he received some early rest with a 13-minute first half. He returned energized, and so did the Pacers.

"Reggie just went nuts in the third quarter,'' Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "That was typical Reggie Miller.''

The Pacers struggled in the first half after handing Dallas its
first loss of the season Thursday. They lacked energy and had no
answer for Washington's Jerry Stackhouse.

Stackhouse scored 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the half as
the Wizards led by as many as 14. The Pacers, though, pulled to
55-47 at halftime.

Stackhouse never regained his stroke and was a non-factor in the
second half. He failed to make another field goal and finished with
24 points.

"Last night was a really emotional game,'' Indiana's Jermaine
O'Neal said. "With those type of games you leave a lot out on the
court. We were tired at the beginning and then we picked it up.''

The Wizards unraveled in the fourth, making only one field goal.
Even Jordan was called for traveling. Late in the fourth, Al
Harrington's outlet pass led to a layup by Artest. He was fouled by
Jordan, and the free throw made it an 89-77 lead.

"On paper we look great,'' Jordan said. "But right now we're
not playing extremely well. Every team goes through something of
this nature. The fortunate thing is this is the beginning of the
season.''

Game notes
Washington's Jared Jeffries, an Indiana native who led
Indiana University to the national championship game in April, made
his first career start. He was whistled for two fouls in the first
43 seconds and was scoreless in 5 minutes. ... Indiana's Jamaal
Tinsley left with a deep right thigh bruise. He did not return and
sat on the bench wearing a Jerome Bettis football jersey. ...
Jordan scored a then-career-low six points on 2-for-10 shooting
last November at Indiana. ... Jordan ended his first, 17-month
retirement on March 14, 1995, against the Pacers at Market Square
Arena. ... The Pacers start a six-game road trip Sunday. ... The
Pacers are 12-0 when leading after three quarters.