Work in Sports
Miller still provides points, passion in playoffs
Posted: Friday May 05, 2000 09:08 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Jalen Rose knew when to rest his shooting wrist and let Reggie Miller work his familiar postseason magic.
Rose ended Miller's 10-year streak as Indiana's leading scorer during the regular season, but when the Pacers needed a big emotional lift in a big playoff game, Miller took over. As usual.
"The other guys just passed the ball when he was open," Rose said. "It was just a matter of whatever it took to win the game, and the guys were willing to sacrifice."
With the Conseco Fieldhouse crowd repeatedly chanting "Reg-gie, Reg-gie," Miller scored a playoff career-high 41 points in Thursday night's 96-95 victory over Milwaukee, sending the Pacers into the Eastern Conference second round against Philadelphia.
The best-of-seven series starts Saturday.
"It was great to see him playing the way he did," Rose said of Miller, who had 18 of the Pacers' 25 points in the fourth quarter. "We just wanted to ride his phenomenal emotion.
"Anytime you have a guy that's 15-for-25 and scoring 41 points, he's doing it from everywhere, inside, outside. He was definitely our key on offense. Being an offensive player myself, I was just trying to get him the ball."
Miller had 19 points in the first half but picked up four fouls in the third quarter and went to the bench with two minutes to go. Milwaukee then outscored Indiana 16-4 for a 79-73 lead before Miller started his incredible run over the final nine minutes, scoring 18 of the Pacers' next 20 points. The final basket was a game-winning 3-pointer by Travis Best with 16 seconds to go.
"I saw fire in Miller's eyes," Best said. "He carried us. Big moments, big shots. What can you say? No one else was hitting and he was our only offense and came through for us."
Miller's 41 points topped his previous playoff best of 39 against the New York Knicks in 1994 and Atlanta in 1995.
"I knew I had to be aggressive. Our offense was kind of stagnant and it was do or die for us," Miller said. "I hit some shots in the fourth quarter and things got going for us."
Pacers coach Larry Bird, a member of three NBA championship teams with the Boston Celtics, called it "Reggie's night."
"He was going to make us or break us," Bird said. "He hit shot after shot after shot and we kept going to him. ... He had a phenomenal game."
Miller, who turns 35 in August, has averaged 23.1 points over 83 career playoff games, fifth highest among active players.
"Regardless how many years Reggie has on his body, he can still play basketball," Bucks guard Ray Allen said. "He's been carrying this team for a long time. The team needed this from him. He's had a great career, and you can't expect anything less from Reggie."