Work in Sports
Comforts of home
Pacers come out shooting, take Game 3
Posted: Sunday June 18, 2000 11:01 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -- There¹s no place like home for the Indiana Pacers.
In front of a fired-up Conseco Fieldhouse crowd, the Pacers came out with a sense of urgency they had lacked in the first two games, jumping out to a big early lead then pulling away to earn a 100-91 victory and get themselves back in the series.
Reggie Miller led the way with 33 points and Jalen Rose added 21 for the Pacers, who went ahead by as many as 18 and shrugged off the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers' fourth-quarter rally.
"Yeah, these guys were very emotional tonight," Pacers coach Larry Bird said. "They played with heart today; they battled today; they really took it serious."
Shaquille O'Neal led the Lakers with 33 points and 13 rebounds, but he went just 3-for-13 at the line, missing six of seven free throws in the fourth quarter.
While Ron Harper added 14 points, and Robert Horry and Derek Fisher had 10 apiece, the Lakers missed Bryant. His replacement in the starting lineup, Brian Shaw, contributed just six points.
L.A. also shot just 8-for-19 at the foul line, was outrebounded badly in the first half when Indiana took control, and committed 17 turnovers.
Bryant stayed in the locker room the entire game after testing his sprained left ankle in the pregame and deciding not to play.
"We knew they were shorthanded, and it wasn't the real Laker team because Kobe wasn't out there," Miller said.
Miller was the real deal, however. Despite not making a fourth-quarter field goal for the third straight game, Miller had his best game of the series as he shot 11-for-22 in 46 minutes and unleashed his trademark feistiness on Phil Jackson and the Lakers.
"I can't play quiet. There's no way," he said. "I play on emotion and excitement, and it's always been that way."
Miller¹s behavior was contagious, as the Pacers talked lots of trash and got in the Lakers' faces for the first time in the series. But they also backed up their talk, keeping their poise after the Lakers pulled within five early in the third quarter and putting the game away with a 23-8 run in the fourth.
"It's not really anything they did. We shot ourselves in the foot," O'Neal said. "We made a lot of silly mistakes. They just wanted it more; they just played a little harder."
It was quite a change of character for the Pacers, who looked meek and humble on the road. Jackson took pleasure in baiting the Lakers and showboating, Rose and Croshere wore their tough-guy faces when needed.
"They weren't asking where the best restaurants were," Lakers forward Rick Fox said of the Pacers' penchant for extracurricular talking.
If the Lakers want to do something about it, they'll have to avoid the kind of slow start that allowed the Pacers to get into a comfort zone so early.
Shaw wasn't shy about shooting, taking five of the Lakers' first 12 attempts while O'Neal had just one.
Miller, after throwing the ball away and dribbling it off his foot and out of bounds in the first few minutes, hit a 3-pointer on the fast break for a 17-10 lead. A jump hook by Rik Smits gave Indiana its first double-digit lead, 23-12.
Miller kept going into the air trying to draw fouls, repeatedly getting upset when the refs wouldn't call them. He finally got a whistle going for a layup over O'Neal, and his free throw for a three-point play made it 30-19.
The Lakers started going more to O'Neal in the second quarter but never developed much of a rhythm, while Indiana used its superiority on the boards to widen its lead.
A tip-in by Dale Davis on Indiana's seventh offensive rebound made it 42-27 before Los Angeles had an 10-2 run to pull within seven. Best took the momentum right back by hitting two jumpers and making a steal that led to a layup by Miller, and Rose made it 53-39 with 4.9 seconds left before the half on a steal, layup and foul shot.
The Pacers committed five fouls in the first 2:55 of the third quarter and missed their first six shots, allowing the Lakers to pull to 55-50. But Rose hit a jumper, Miller hit a tough bank shot, Rose hit a jumper on the break and Jackson drilled a 3-pointer to quickly restore the 12-point lead.
Rather than rest after restoring that comfortable advantage, the Pacers kept pouring it on. Rose had a steal and dunk, and Sam Perkins hit a 3-pointer as the crowd yelled his nickname -- "Smooth" -- while the ball was in mid-flight.
The Lakers answered with four straight points before Miller slammed the door, hitting a jumper before coming up with another steal and then pulling up for a 3-pointer, thrusting both hands in the air and playing to the crowd, for a 76-58 lead.
"That's Reggie. He uses that stuff as energy," Lakers center John Salley said. "Reggie did his thing, but we shot ourselves in the foot."
Notes: Davis had two points and 12 rebounds before fouling out
with 1:50 left. ... Toronto center Antonio Davis, traded from
Indiana to the Raptors last summer, sat in a courtside seat and
received a rousing ovation when introduced during a first-quarter
timeout. ... After reviewing videotape of Game 2, the league
rescinded the flagrant foul called on O'Neal midway through the