Work in Sports
Not so fast
Desperate Pacers trounce Lakers to extend series
Posted: Sunday June 18, 2000 10:58 PM
INDIANAPOLIS -- Facing elimination, the Indiana Pacers were determined to go out in a blaze of glory. They came out blazing, all right, torching the Lakers and turning what was supposed to be the Lakersą finest hour into their worst loss of the season.
Jalen Rose scored 32 points on 12-for-18 shooting and Reggie Miller added 25, as the Pacers shot 57 percent for the game on their way to a 120-87 victory, assuring the Pacers a trip back to Los Angeles. Game 6 is Monday night at the Staples Center.
"We're a team that plays better when our backs are against the wall, and 3-1 was a big wall," said Rose.
"We had to make a statement from the beginning that we were not going to roll over. We wanted to go back to California," added Indiana guard Mark Jackson.
They didnąt roll over. They just rolled, hitting 75 percent of their shots, including shooting 6-for-6 on 3-pointers, as they scored a postseason-high 39 first-quarter points to lead 39-28 after one. Miller and Rose scored 11 apiece, but L.A. shot 52 percent to stay within striking distance.
The Lakers didnąt stay there long. Indiana's lead reached 20 in the second quarter, and was 19, 64-45, at the half, as Rose had 22 and Miller 18.
The Pacers extended the lead to 21 early in the third before the Lakers went on an 8-0 run, pulling to within 13 on a driving layup by A.C. Green. But they would get no closer.
Shaquille O'Neal was a one-man attack, leading Los Angeles with 35 points and 11 rebounds. Kobe Bryant, whose Game 4 performance earned him comparisons to Michael Jordan, shot only 4-for-20, often forcing the action and apparently trying too hard to be like Mike.
Bryant picked up his fourth foul in the middle of an Indiana 10-4 run in the third quarter, then picked up his fifth with 1:44 left in the quarter.
Indiana took a 19-point lead into the fourth and cruised home. The final stanza was garbage time, as Chris Mullin and Zan Tabak of Indiana and Devean George and John Salley of the Lakers score their first points of the series.
Before the game, Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson was worried about his team being overconfident. He wonąt have to worry about that come Game 6. Instead, he and the Lakers, who havenąt lost three straight all season, will have to contend with a confident Indiana team intent on being the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 Finals deficit.
"We just need to take it one game at a time and see if we can get this thing done," said Rose.
Pacers forward Austin Croshere said his team was "going to leave everything on the court."
"If this was going to be our last game, we were going to give it everything we had," he said.
"It was a great win," Rose said. "Had they beaten us by 33, we would have been written off. So we'll see what happens. They're still in control, we're still the team that has fire.
"We know California will be ready to celebrate. We heard about the parade, but it won't be tomorrow."
Notes: Best, who was questionable with a bruised shoulder, showed
no ill effects as he played 10 minutes and scored 5 points and
added three assists. ... O'Neal shot 1-for-6 at the free-throw
line, lowering his accuracy rate in this series to 41 percent. ...
Chris Mullin and Zan Tabak of Indiana and Devean George and John
Salley of the Lakers scored their first points of the series during
extensive garbage time. ... The Lakers' previous worst loss was by
29 in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against Portland.