Miller's free throws, Ewing's miss even series at 1-1
Posted: Wednesday June 02, 1999 03:32 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Tweet went the whistle, swish went Reggie Miller, down went the Knicks.
On a night when 40 fouls were called against New York, the last one allowed Miller to beat the Knicks from the free throw line.
Miller made two free throws with 2 seconds left and Patrick Ewing barely missed a turnaround jumper at the buzzer, allowing the Indiana Pacers to escape with an 88-86 victory Tuesday night in a thrilling Game 2 that evened the Eastern Conference finals.
"We're very fortunate to be in this position, but I'm happy with the way we gutted it out," Miller said. "No one ever said it was going to be easy, and we're going to have our hands full, but we feel very good about ourselves."
There were 68 fouls and 84 free throws in all, and the Pacers couldn't have asked for a better candidate to attempt the final two.
Miller, the league's leading free throw shooter at 91.5 percent, faked Chris Childs into the air and was bumped as he shot a jumper, sending him to the line for Indiana's 46th and 47th attempts of the night. He calmly made both.
"I just put my hands up, he leaned in. Terrible call," Childs said. "This is a game for the people, the fans and the players -- and it wasn't that tonight."
Indiana got the victory despite blowing a 17-point lead and losing its starting center to fouls with more than six minutes left. Most impressively, they overcame an inspired performance from a Knicks team that was undeterred by all the adversity that came its way -- everything from the referees' whistles to the Pacers' fans throwing beer and coins at them.
Game 3 in the best-of-7 series will be Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Mark Jackson rebounded from a sub-par Game 1 and led the Pacers with 17 points, while Miller had 16, Dale Davis 15 and Jalen Rose 13.
The Pacers forced 20 turnovers and held the Knicks scoreless for two crucial stretches -- a four-minute span when Indiana turned a 78-72 deficit into an 81-78 lead, and an ensuing two-minute stretch that ended with the Pacers ahead 84-80.
Larry Johnson scored 22 points to lead New York before fouling out with 4:58 left. Childs and Chris Dudley also fouled out, while Marcus Camby finished with five fouls and Ewing, Charlie Ward and Kurt Thomas had four apiece.
"Just how it goes, I guess," said Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who pondered his answer for at least 30 seconds, sinking his head into his hand and sighing.
The Pacers were ahead 84-80 as the clock ticked inside two minutes, but Ewing hit a jumper, Antonio Davis missed a jumper and Camby tapped in a miss to tie it with 1:23 left.
Rose committed an offensive foul on Indiana's next possession, Ewing made two free throws with 45 seconds left and Antonio Davis scored inside with 31 seconds left after a questionable blocking foul against Camby to tie it 86-all. He missed a free throw for a three-point play and the lead.
The Knicks then worked the ball to Allan Houston, who drove the lane and made the mistake of leaving his feet while surrounded by defenders.
"I probably should have pulled up and shot it. I got too deep and didn't have anywhere to go," Houston said. "It's disappointing, because you at least have to get a shot off, make or miss, and I didn't."
It resulted in a turnover that gave Indiana the opportunity to run down the clock, and Miller held the ball outside the 3-point line as the seconds ticked away before faking Childs off his feet.
"I beat him baseline and he recovered, and I was getting ready to step back and knew I had him faked out right there," Miller said. "When I gave him the pump fake, he left his feet a little bit. From that point it as just about getting a clear shot at the basket. I thought it was an and-one, but it went in and out."
The Knicks, out of timeouts, had Ward throw a baseball pass to Ewing downcourt. The shot rimmed in and out, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
The foul problems started right away for the Knicks. Ward picked up two personals in the first four minutes, and Childs drew three personals and a technical in the next four minutes.
That forced New York to use Latrell Sprewell at point guard for the first time all season, and he had four of New York's 12 turnovers at halftime. The Knicks had matched their season-low with eight turnovers in Game 1.
Johnson helped keep the Knicks somewhat close by scoring 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the first half, but Indiana steadily built its lead as high as 17 before settling for a 57-46 halftime lead.
All the adversity brought about some strange behavior from the Knicks. Van Gundy appeared ready to kick the ball into the stands after one ticky-tack foul call, only to have Johnson pat him on the belly to calm him down, and Ewing gestured wildly to the crowd after it serenaded him with an obscene chant.
Ewing, Johnson, Thomas, Childs, Chris Mullin, Smits and Miller all picked up their fourth fouls during the third quarter, which the Knicks closed with an 11-4 run to trail 71-68.
Childs opened the final quarter with a 3-pointer, and Dudley gave the Knicks their first lead of the game on a tip-in that made it 73-71 less than a minute into the final period.
A flagrant foul on Smits led to two free throws by Childs and a short jumper by Houston on the ensuing possession for a 78-72 lead, but the Pacers came right back with a 9-0 run to take an 81-78 lead on Rose's 3-pointer from the corner with 5:13 left.
Notes: Miller missed three foul shots in a row in the first half. It was the first time in any game this season that Miller missed three. ... A fan sitting a few rows behind acting Knicks president Dave Checketts held up a sign, with arrows pointing to Checketts, that identified him as Phil Jackson's next boss. The controversy surrounding Van Gundy's unsettled future has quieted down in the past few days, but Checketts said before the game that is sticking with his plan to evaluate all the coaches and players at the conclusion of the season. ... Smits finished with just six points and two rebounds in 13 minutes. He fouled out midway through the fourth.
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