INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- This wasn't how Reggie Miller imagined his
Miller scored 33 points Thursday night, his most in the
postseason in three years, and Indiana pulled away to a 99-76
victory over Boston and a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven
first-round playoff series.
Game 4 will be here Saturday night, and the series will return
to Boston on Tuesday.
"I'm trying to be aggressive. ... I'm getting great picks from
our big guys," Miller said. "This is somewhat of an out-of-body
experience. I'm not supposed to be doing it."
Celtics coach Doc Rivers only wishes that were the case.
"I hate that guy," Rivers said, quickly adding, "No, Reggie's
been great. He really has.
"We've got to come up with a better answer for him than we
Rivers said earlier this week that Miller, who had 25 points on
Monday night, may be getting "sympathy calls" from the officials
as he makes his final NBA tour before retiring. The 39-year-old
Pacers star had his usual flops, trying to draw fouls as he went up
for shots, but it wasn't his theatrics or the officials' kindly
treatment that doomed the Celtics.
"We just got our tails kicked," Rivers said. "They were more
physical, they were the aggressor. They competed hard, got all the
loose balls. This team has been here. If we try to play tit-for-tat
and try to think our way through the series, we're not going to do
too well. We have the advantage of youth and athleticism, and we
have to use that."
Miller hit his first two shots, a big 3-pointer that put Indiana
in control in the first quarter and another 3-pointer during a 17-3
run that broke the game open with less than six minutes to go.
"It's playoff basketball. Everyone's trying to one-up each
other," Miller said of the "sympathy" comment by Rivers. "I'm
just trying to play. Doc obviously has to say whatever he has to
say. I wasn't crying after Game 1 when I was 1-for-7. He's a great
coach and a great motivator, I understand that, but I'm just trying
to play the game."
Miller's second 3-pointer and then a dunk by Stephen Jackson,
playing on a painful knee from an injury in Monday night's victory
at Boston, gave the Pacers an 83-62 lead. Later, Miller came back
for another basket and hit a free throw after an irate Rivers was
called for a technical foul.
He also had seven rebounds and two assists and left the game
with 2:28 to go amid the familiar chants of "Reg-gie, Reg-gie."
"It's no accident he's gotten better and better over his
career," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "At one time, he was
strictly a catch-and-shoot player, and he's become a
multidimensional player. He's not the guy we go to every time, but
we do feature in him in some ways. He's a veteran and he has a
knack for getting the ball in the basket."
Jermaine O'Neal, playing with a sore right shoulder and taking a
pounding inside almost the whole game, had 21 points, 11 rebounds
and three blocked shots. Paul Pierce led Boston with 19 points,
Gary Payton finished with 15 and Antoine Walker added 14.
"It's over with," Payton said. "We have to come back and play
Saturday. We didn't do a lot of things. They outhustled us. That's
a team that's a little more hungry than us right now."
Walker was ejected with two technical fouls, both after hard
personals on O'Neal. The second time, with just over four minutes
to go, O'Neal also received a technical for shoving Walker, but
stayed in the game and hit two more free throws for an 88-65 lead.
"Things happen, people say things," O'Neal said. "I don't
take anything personally. You're going to do things that sometimes
doesn't sit well with other people. It's part of the game."
Boston tried to keep Indiana from getting easy baskets in
transition from the beginning, but the Pacers just kept passing
until they found an open player. Sixteen of Indiana's 20 baskets in
the first half came off assists, including a pair of left-handed
dunks by O'Neal and a fast-break layup by Miller after a steal and
feed by James Jones.
Miller was fouled on the play and made the free throw, giving
Indiana its first double-digit lead at 37-27.
A free throw by Walker was the only point for the Celtics during
a 13-1 Pacers run. A free throw by O'Neal, a steal by Jackson and
dunk by O'Neal, two free throws by Miller and another basket by
O'Neal pushed Indiana's lead to 44-28 with four minutes left in the
Indiana led 55-38 at the break, and Boston cut the lead to seven
points before the first technical on Walker. Then Indiana pulled
away for good.
Miller (2,847 points) passed Robert Parish and Charles
Barkley for 20th in NBA playoff career scoring. ... Walker and
Jackson squared off -- no punches were thrown -- and received
technicals after Walker's first hard foul on O'Neal midway through
the third quarter. ... A 3-pointer by Indiana's Fred Jones late in
the first period was his first basket in the playoffs. He had shot
0-for-15 since the next-to-last regular-season game.