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Pacers' Locker Room
Indiana's 'Superman' flops in Tinseltown
Posted: Thursday June 08, 2000 02:40 AM
By Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated
LOS ANGELES -- Look! In the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane!
It's one of Superman's bricks!
Pacers guard Reggie Miller was supposed to be the Man of Steel for his team in the NBA Finals. Instead he left his teammates staring into the air in disbelief in Game 1 as shot after shot drew iron of the wrong kind.
In one of the worst shooting performances in Finals history, Miller hit just 1 of 16 shots and finished with a career playoff-low seven points as Indiana dropped a 104-87 loss to the Lakers.
"I couldn't put the ball in the basket," said Miller, who had taken to wearing a Superman T-shirt earlier in the playoffs.
In the biggest game of his 13-year NBA career, in his hometown of L.A., the flopper with the floppy hat came up with the biggest flop in Tinseltown since Judge Dredd.
Meanwhile, the Lakers' Superman, a.k.a. Shaquille O'Neal, dominated the Pacers for 43 points, 19 rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
In one of the game's biggest plays, he also rejected Miller on a driving layup late in the third quarter that could have cut the Lakers' lead to two points.
"Reggie just had a bad shooting night," Indiana coach Larry Bird said. "This is the first time he's been in a game like this. I'm sure he was ready to get out there and play. He just had an off night."
Miller did miss several shots he normally makes. However, the Lakers' defense contributed to his nightmare at Staples.
L.A. guards Ron Harper and Kobe Bryant stayed in Miller's face all night, chasing him around screens and denying him the ball. When he did catch it, they crowded him and pushed him baseline, where he had to shoot over Shaq.
Bryant's ball pressure on Pacers guard Mark Jackson also helped the cause, slowing down the Indiana offense just enough to disrupt Miller's timing as he flew off screens. "It seemed like Reggie never got in any rythym," Pacers center Sam Perkins admitted.
In the Indiana locker room after the game, none of the Pacers seemed at all concerned about their star's flameout.
Instead they focused on their inability to stop Shaq down low and L.A.'s numerous second-chance points, generated by a 14-6 edge in offensive rebounds.
"Reggie had a rough night, but it's not all on Reggie," Pacers forward Jalen Rose said. "We've won games this season when Reggie hasn't had a great night. Reggie will be fine. We just have to find a way to stop Shaq."
Meanwhile, Miller kept a brave face and a defiant stance. Looking like a '20s gangster in his black pinstripe suit and vest, he insisted he would be gunning again in Game 2.
"If they continue to give me those [open shots], they're going to be in trouble," he said. "My first four baskets went in and out. Every shot but one felt good. ...
"You know, I feel bad I only got up 16 shots. If I was going to be 1-for- 16, I at least should have been 1-for-25 or something like that."
The Pacers can only hope he's joking.