Work in Sports
Sixers avoid sweep with emotional win over Pacers
Posted: Sunday May 14, 2000 02:24 AM
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Indiana Pacers excelled without Reggie Miller for more than a quarter. Now they might have to play without him for an entire game.
Miller and Philadelphia's Matt Geiger were ejected with 1:19 left in the third quarter of the 76ers' 92-90 victory over Indiana in Game 4 Saturday. Both are subject to suspensions for the next game Monday.
Indiana still leads 3-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals after overcoming what had been a 19-point deficit and taking a five-point lead without Miller, then losing down the stretch.
"I hope Reggie is allowed to play," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "I respect Reggie for what he did. We talked about giving hard fouls. It's just unfortunate how it happened."
After Geiger knocked Miller to the floor late in the third quarter, Geiger's second flagrant foul, Miller retaliated. He rushed Geiger and took a swipe at the 7-footer's face, connecting with a left hand.
The Sixers led 79-61 at the time of the ejections. Both players left the building before the game ended and weren't available for comment.
"I do think they were cheap shots, but at the same time, that's playoff basketball," Indiana guard Jalen Rose said.
The Pacers scored the next 15 points after the fight. The Sixers came back, but Indiana had a chance at the end. Travis Best missed two long jumpers in the final seconds, including a 3-pointer as time expired that could have ended the series.
No NBA team has ever won a series after falling behind 3-0, but Allen Iverson feels it's a matter of time.
"Somebody's got to do it someday. It might as well be us," Iverson said. "We have another shot. We live to see tomorrow. It would have been easy to fold and go on vacation, but we battled."
Tyrone Hill put back Iverson's miss to give the 76ers a 91-90 lead with 42 seconds left. Rose missed a layup with 8.9 seconds left, and Toni Kukoc was fouled after he grabbed the rebound. He made one free throw to make it 92-90 with 8.5 seconds left.
Best barely missed both shots in the final seconds, sending the series back to Indiana for Game 5.
Iverson scored 19 points and Hill had 18 to lead the Sixers, who were swept by Indiana last season.
Rik Smits scored 20 points, and Rose and Miller each added 16 for the Pacers.
"Tyrone Hill was phenomenal," Brown said. "He just willed us to win."
Hill had 15 rebounds as the Sixers outrebounded Indiana 53-37, including 20-9 on the offensive end.
"We wanted to come out and give a lot of effort," Hill said. "It was more pride and heart. Nobody wants to get swept. It was big emotion."
The Sixers appeared to be coasting to an easy victory until Geiger knocked Miller to the floor.
The ensuing melee and Miller's ejection invigorated the Pacers. Indiana scored 10 straight to end the quarter and five more to open the fourth, closing to 79-76 on a 3-pointer by Rose.
Hill ended the 15-0 run with a dunk and a free throw to complete a three-point play, giving the Sixers an 82-76 lead. Philadelphia went 5:03 without a point.
But Indiana, playing with Rose and four subs, wouldn't go away. Chris Mullin tied the game at 85-85 with a 3-pointer with 4:25 left. Best's driving layup and a 3-pointer put Indiana ahead 90-85 with 3:06 left.
"It was no coincidence that we picked up our intensity after both flagrant fouls," Indiana coach Larry Bird said. "Matt was trying to take him out."
Aaron McKie answered Best's 3-pointer with one of his own to make it 90-88. A free throw by Theo Ratliff closed the Sixers within one, setting up the final minute.
Iverson, who shot just 7-of-26, survived a scary moment when he got the wind knocked out of him in the final minute of the first half. Iverson collided with Dale Davis and lay motionless on the court for a couple minutes.
With his teammates surrounding him and the crowd chanting his name, Iverson walked off the court with help from team doctors. He suffered bruised ribs, but will play Monday.
"I'm getting used to it by now," said Iverson, who has an inflamed elbow, a broken toe and a chip fracture in his ankle. "It's just another injury to me."
Iverson returned to start the second half and electrified the crowd with a behind-the-back pass on a fast break to George Lynch, who flicked the ball to Ratliff for a slam and a 60-47 lead.
The Sixers, who fell behind by double digits in their first two losses at Indiana, took a 33-18 lead after one quarter.
Miller came alive after the first flagrant foul by Geiger in the second. He sank a pair of free throws, then scored on a driving layup to cut Indiana's deficit to 45-34.
Miller picked up a loose ball and put it in to make it 46-38 with 4:13 left in the second. But the Sixers quickly scored six straight, including four free throws by Kukoc.
Kukoc, quiet in the first three games, scored 10 points in the first half and finished with 11.
"It's still not enough," he said.
Notes: Iverson, who has a history of being late and missing
practices, reportedly arrived 45 minutes late for Friday's
shootaround. He was not disciplined. ... Sixers rookie Todd
MacCulloch saw his first action of the series in the second
quarter. He had four points and four rebounds in five minutes. ...
McKie, playing for the injured Eric Snow, scored 12 points. He was
1-of-8 after starting 3-for-4.