Work in Sports
Indiana takes 3-0 lead with 97-89 win over Philly
Posted: Thursday May 11, 2000 02:54 AM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The taunts kept coming, and the ending got ugly. Through it all, Reggie Miller thrived.
Miller scored 29 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, to silence a sellout crowd that badgered him with derisive chants -- and worse -- all night.
With help down the stretch from Travis Best and Sam Perkins, the Indiana Pacers moved within one victory of sweeping the Philadelphia 76ers out of the playoffs for the second straight season. Wednesday night's 97-89 win gave the Pacers a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"I love that," Miller said of the antagonistic atmosphere. "The more, the better."
After Miller iced the victory on a breakaway dunk with 22 seconds left, fans tossed debris on the court, including a full can of beer that missed Sixers forward George Lynch by inches.
Miller closed the game by dribbling out the final seconds, brazenly bouncing the ball between his legs while staring down a group of fans sitting across from the Philadelphia bench who had been yapping at him all night.
In the end, he and the Pacers had made everyone shut up.
"I was really, really surprised when we ran out [before the game] and it was so quiet and dead. They started chanting after introductions, but last year in Game 3 it was so crazy and so alive that they started as soon as we ran out," Miller said. "I was somewhat disappointed they didn't do it this time when we ran out. I kind of like that. That's what the playoffs are all about."
Indiana scored 32 of the game's final 48 points, with Best and Perkins contributing several key shots. Best repeatedly used his speed to get to the basket and score while guarded by Iverson, and Perkins hit a running hook shot and two 3-pointers in the final 12 minutes.
Put together, it allowed the Pacers to overcome a sub-par effort from Jalen Rose, who finished with 12 points after scoring 40 and 30 in the first two games.
Best had 19 points, while Perkins and Dale Davis added 10 apiece.
Iverson had 29 points to lead the 76ers, who will try to avoid the sweep Saturday in Game 4. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit.
"By no means is this over," Miller said, "though everybody thinks it is."
Miller gave Indiana the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 8:59 left, but the 76ers stayed within reach until the final minute.
Two foul shots by Iverson with 3:20 left made it 87-85 before Perkins hit his running hook shot with 2:46 left. A 24-second violation on the Sixers was followed by a foul shot by Best, and a driving layup by Iverson made it 90-87 with 1:58 left.
Perkins got the lead back to six by answering with a 3-pointer, and Best gave Indiana another six-point lead on a driving layup past Iverson with 1:11 left.
A turnover by Iverson on Philadelphia's next possession ended the Sixers' chances. Beer cups -- and that full, unopened, 12-ounce can -- began flying out of the stands shortly thereafter.
"I thought I was in Europe," Miller said.
Philadelphia coach Larry Brown admonished the crowd over the public-address system, and play was delayed as ball boys cleaned the court.
"The way it broke and popped open," said Perkins, a 16-year veteran. "That's the first time I've seen something like that, and the refs didn't call anything."
The Sixers took their first lead of the entire series 2 1/2 minutes into the first quarter as Iverson scored on a driving layup to make it 6-5. With Aaron McKie hitting four of five shots and Tyrone Hill grabbing seven rebounds, Philadelphia led for most of the quarter and was up 23-22 heading into the second.
Brown unveiled a slight change as Toni Kukoc and Lynch were on the floor together early in the second quarter, but it didn't do much to increase Kukoc's production, as he managed only four first-half points in 15 minutes. Kukoc did not score in the second half as his teammates repeatedly failed to get him the ball as he stood wide open in the corner.
"There was no organization out there," Brown said. "I kept drawing up plays, and it was like talking to a wall. We'd make one pass and just stand around."
Iverson had 19 points and McKie had 13 at the half, while Best scored 10 points in the second quarter to keep things close as the Pacers trailed only 47-46 at the break.
Pacers center Rik Smits went to the bench with his fifth foul midway through the third, and the 76ers' big men then started to score down low. Hill, Theo Ratliff and Matt Geiger combined for 18 points in the quarter as Philadelphia extended its lead to 70-65 entering the fourth.
Kevin Ollie, subbing for McKie, scored the first basket of the final quarter to give Philadelphia its largest lead of the night, 73-65, but the Pacers scored the next 11 points -- six on 3-pointers by Miller -- to go ahead for good.
Notes: Starting in place of Eric Snow, who is out for the series
with a chip fracture in his ankle, McKie had 20 points and three
assists. ... Pacers forward Austin Croshere tested his sore right
foot and lasted less than two minutes, allowing Chris Mullin to get
his first playing time of the series. Mullin scored on an
uncontested layup 10 seconds after checking in.