Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/30

Game 1: Thursday, December 30th
Game 2: Sunday, March 20th
Game 3: Tuesday, March 22nd
Game 4: Wednesday, April 13th

Nets 86

(38-40, 16-23 away)

Pacers 90

(43-35, 24-15 home)

Coverage: FSMW

7:00 PM ET, April 13, 2005

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

1 2 3 4 T
NJ 30 19 18 1986
IND 18 20 31 2190

Top Performers

NJ: J. Kidd 29 Pts, 15 Reb, 6 Ast, 2 Stl

Ind: R. Miller 22 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl

Miller heats up with 7 points in 22 seconds

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Reggie Miller's resurgence has the Indiana Pacers back in the playoffs. His teammates hope they can extend his career with one more memorable postseason run.

Miller scored seven points in another of his patented late shooting flurries Wednesday night, helping the Pacers rally from a six-point deficit to beat the New Jersey Nets 90-86 and clinch an eighth straight playoff berth.

"Reggie is such a class guy and such a professional and such a great teammate, you definitely don't want to let him down," guard Anthony Johnson said. "A lot of it has to do with him and trying to send him out the right way."

The Pacers needed Miller more than ever since March 3, when All-Star Jermaine O'Neal went down with a sprained right shoulder. O'Neal hasn't played since, but Miller has rallied Indiana, which is now playing its best basketball of the season.

It has won eight of its last nine, 14 of its last 18 at home and is getting contributions from some unlikely places.

Five months ago, the playoffs seemed an implausible goal after the Pacers' season was nearly ruined by a Nov. 19 brawl with Detroit Pistons fans.

All-Star Ron Artest was suspended for the rest of the season, Stephen Jackson for 30 games and O'Neal for 25, a penalty later reduced to 15. In all, the Pacers have lost more than 400 games to injuries, suspensions and illness this season. They never started their projected lineup, but Miller never allowed his teammates to succumb to the adversity.

"I think a lot of people probably wrote us off after what happened in Detroit, and it easily could have been a death sentence for this franchise and this organization," he said. "But I knew personally I was going to be judged by what we did after that."

But it took one more charge from Miller and the Pacers to assure Indiana would be best remembered for the ability to overcome the odds rather than the perhaps the biggest black eye in NBA history.

Jason Kidd led New Jersey with 29 points, 15 rebounds and six assists, while Vince Carter added 22 points and five rebounds. The Nets blew a 14-point first-half lead and a six-point lead in the final 2:22 when it appeared they were pulling away.

Their three-game winning streak ended and they lost on the road for the first time since March 13. The Nets also dropped 1½ games behind idle Philadelphia in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

"The bottom line is this: It's a five-game playoff," coach Lawrence Frank said. "This was Game 1 and we lost. But we've lost Game 1 before in a five-game series."

The Nets were done in by a barrage of 3-pointers and Miller's late charge.

Indiana finished with 12 3-pointers and managed to stay close enough with virtual unknowns like Gill and Jones, who contributed to the Pacers 41-18 advantage off the bench.

And Austin Croshere's buzzer-beating 21-footer just before halftime seemed to spark the Pacers after an uncharacteristic half in which they allowed New Jersey to shoot 50 percent from the field, take control with two first-quarter surges and lead by as much as 49-35 late. The Pacers also drew three technical fouls in the half.

While Jackson added 17 points and Croshere 13, Miller again played the catalyst.

With the Pacers trailing 83-77 and 2:22 to go, Miller connected on a long 3-pointer and flopped to the ground, drawing a foul on Clifford Robinson. Miller, again the league's top free throw shooter, completed the rare four-point play and then hit another 3 on the Pacers' next possession to tie the score at 84 with 2:00 left. Robinson contended it was not a foul.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle disagreed.

"He came off some baseline screens, lined it up and Cliff Robinson ran through him," Carlisle said. "Taking from six to two was really big."

Jones followed that with a 22-footer to make it 86-84 with 1:12 left and after Carter drew his fourth foul with 17 seconds to go, Johnson hit one free throw to make it 87-84.

The Pacers gave New Jersey one more chance when Dale Davis made one free throw with 8.6 seconds left, but Carter missed a potential tying 3-pointer in the final seconds and Miller's Pacers hung on.

"Reggie was big tonight, Reggie is big every night," Kidd said. "He made some Reggie plays. ... He put his team in position to win the ballgame."

Game notes

The loss ended New Jersey's bid to tie the franchise record for most consecutive road victories (six). ... Carter scored 11 points in the first quarter. He scored a league-high 24 in the first quarter against Boston on Saturday. ... Miller's three steals gave him 1,502 for his career. He is the 31st player in NBA history to top 1,500.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 86 90
FGM-FGA 28-65 (.431) 29-79 (.367)
3PM-3PA 5-14 (.357) 12-28 (.429)
FTM-FTA 25-36 (.694) 20-25 (.800)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-42 14-46
Assists 14 18
Turnovers 16 13
Steals 5 9
Blocks 4 3
Fast Break Points 18 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 25 (3/1)
Largest Lead 14 6

Top Performers

New Jersey
Jason Kidd Kidd
Points: 29
Reb: 15
Ast: 6
Stl: 2
Blk: 0
Reggie Miller Miller
Points: 22
Reb: 7
Ast: 2
Stl: 3
Blk: 0