Bucks stopped here
Miller scores 33 to finish off Pacers' sweep of Milwaukee
Posted: Friday May 14, 1999 09:01 AM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Indiana had Reggie Miller, a clutch-shooting veteran and tough defense down the stretch.
It all added up to a sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks.
Miller scored 33 points and 37-year-old Sam Perkins hit two big second-half 3-pointers when his team was struggling as Indiana beat Milwaukee 99-91 Thursday night to win the best-of-5 first-round series 3-0.
"We came in here thinking about a sweep, but we did it quietly," said Perkins, whose team won the first two games of the series at home. "We didn't talk about it, just came in here and tried to do it and we successfully did."
The Pacers got it done with excellent outside shooting. Miller made five 3-pointers and Indiana hit 13 overall, a team playoff record. No two were more important than those made by Perkins, a crafty left-hander who wears his hair in cornrows and a ponytail.
Perkins, scoreless for the first 34 1/2 minutes, hit a 3-pointer with 1:27 left in the third quarter to break a 73-73 tie, sank two free throws to make it 78-75, then sank a 3 from the left corner to make it 83-76 less than a minute into the fourth quarter.
The Pacers then relied on their defense -- and back-to-back 3-pointers by Mark Jackson -- to finish the job. They held Milwaukee to one basket in the first 7:08 of the final quarter and now await the Orlando-Philadelphia winner in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"I'm sitting over there mentally trying to get into the game and trying to see where you can insert yourself, and the third quarter seemed like it was a good time to do that," Perkins said. "I had some looks and made some things happen."
Milwaukee outshot Indiana 45 percent to 39 percent, and stayed with the taller Pacers on the boards. But the Bucks were just 5-of-13 from 3-point range while Indiana went 13-of-33 to break the team playoff record of 11 it set against Atlanta on May 15, 1994.
"Indiana is one of those teams that demoralizes you with smart basketball," Milwaukee coach George Karl said. "Sometimes you can hustle all you want and work all you want and they make a smart play that just frustrates you."
Milwaukee, in the playoffs for the first time in eight years, didn't go quietly and answered every Indiana surge for much of the game. But after Sam Cassell scored on a drive for a 69-69 tie with 4:50 left in the third quarter, the Bucks' offense went south.
They didn't make another field goal until Armen Gilliam drove for a basket with 9:36 remaining. Jackson then hit his two 3-pointers for an 89-78 lead and the Pacers held on.
"Tonight was just a great display of guys with a lot of confidence hoping to become world champions," Indiana coach Larry Bird said.
Jackson finished with 16 points and Chris Mullin 13 for the Pacers. Robinson led Milwaukee with 23 points but managed only seven in the second half. Allen added 20 points for the Bucks -- just six in the second half.
"I think when it's time for them to score and it's time for them to make good plays, they know how to make 'em because they're a savvy ball team," Allen said. "They just value their possessions. They know how to trick us within the confines of their offense."
Indiana, ahead by a point at halftime, appeared on the verge of taking control at the start of the third quarter. Two jumpers by Rik Smits, one by Mullin and a 3-pointer by Miller sent the Pacers into a 62-54 lead and they led 67-61 after Miller's 3 from the left corner at the 7:17 mark.
Miller then seemed to tire, his shots began falling short and Milwaukee clawed back. The Bucks tied it on three occasions, the last time at 73 on Dell Curry's two free throws.
Then Perkins found the range and the Pacers were on their way. Perkins, who has appeared in more playoff games than anyone on the Indiana roster, finished with eight points.
"We knew if we had the lead going into the fourth quarter ... they were going to try to make shots and keep the crowd in the game," said Indiana's Jalen Rose. "So we just wanted to keep them in front us and not allow 3s and fortunately it worked."
The Bucks weren't nearly as successful keeping Indiana from shooting 3s.
"It's the way we play," Robinson said. "We're going to give up 3s because we're a double-teaming type team. We play aggressive and are very proactive. When they're hot ..."
The Pacers were plenty hot enough on this night.
Notes: The first playoff game in Milwaukee since 1991 drew a sellout crowd of 18,717 ... The Bucks have not won a playoff game since a first-round win over Chicago in 1990 ... Indiana, which has beaten Milwaukee 10 straight times, reached the Eastern Conference semifinals for the fourth time in six years ... Tempers flared early in the second quarter when Indiana's 5-foot-11 Travis Best felt he was bumped driving to the basket and charged after the Bucks' 6-9 Gilliam. The two were quickly separated and neither was called for a foul ... Cassell had 12 assists to tie his playoff career high.
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