Pace is slowing
Indiana having trouble keeping up with Knicks
Posted: Friday June 11, 1999 01:04 AM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Oh, for some fresh legs.
The Indiana Pacers, with a starting five all thirtysomething, just can't keep up with the younger, quicker New York Knicks. Big leads eventually disappear, dead-on shots come up short and, with Travis Best still on the mend, even their vaunted bench quickly is depleted.
"We wanted to get into them early, but as the game went on, the more fatigued we looked. We didn't make a lot of plays down the stretch," coach Larry Bird said.
Indiana's 14-point first-quarter lead disappeared in the second period Wednesday night. By halftime, the game was tied. At the end, after the Knicks repeatedly burned them on fast breaks, the Pacers were reeling, and the 101-94 loss left them one game from elimination in the Eastern Conference finals.
"It's not the situation we wanted to be in, but that's the way it is," Bird said. "It's going to be tough, but we have to have everyone come out and play. We didn't have that. ... We got nothing out of our bench, especially in the second quarter."
The Knicks can wrap up the series at home in Game 6 Friday night. A seventh game would be back at Indiana on Sunday.
"It's the same old story of the series," Reggie Miller said. "And when they get 15-to-20 fast-break points and we only get two or three, usually we're going to lose the game."
New York outscored Indiana 18-2 on the break Wednesday night. In the past three games, the margin has been 40-5.
"We've got to do a better job of getting back on defense and making them play halfcourt. When we get our defense set, that's when we're at our best," Miller said. "And they're at their best when it's a track meet."
Miller had 30 points, his best game of the series, but did it on 9-of-19 shooting. Rik Smits was 4-of-14 for eight points, but after an early basket in the first quarter didn't score again until four minutes were left in the game. Mark Jackson had 16 points, but was just 6-for-14.
In the second quarter, Miller, Smits and Jackson combined for 0-for-12.
"We had a lot of things going against us and just couldn't get the ball down, and they did," Smits said. "We just weren't hitting shots."
The pattern is all too familiar.
In Game 1, the Pacers led by five points with 2:20 to go before losing by three. The next game, they blew a 17-point lead in the first half, but held on to win by two. In the third game, they led by eight with 3:21 to go, but lost 92-91 on a four-point play by Larry Johnson with 6 seconds to go. In Game 4, the Knicks cut a 16-point Indiana lead to seven before the Pacers pulled out a 90-78 win.
This time, Indiana led by six early in the final period before the Knicks rallied. Two more 3-pointers by Johnson and a basket by Marcus Camby put New York up 91-84, and the Knicks scored their final 10 points on free throws.
Rose, getting more playing time at point guard because of a groin injury to Best, had 19 points in Game 4 but just 6 points Wednesday night.
"It's do or die. Either we do or we're dead. It's as simple as that," Rose said. "There's no theories, nothing I can draw up on the board and say we need to do A, B, C and D. The bottom line is we've got to come out and win or the season's over."
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.