INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Reggie Miller likely never had an easier shot to win a game and likely never missed so badly.
Miller made a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute but missed a wide-open jumper at the buzzer as the New Jersey Nets edged the Indiana Pacers, 85-84, to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round playoff series.
Miller has built a career out of making huge shots, especially in the playoffs, where defense is often tighter and scoring chances are heavily contested. But he could not give the Pacers the series lead with what may have been the most wide-open jumper of his 15-year career.
Indiana had possession with less than a second remaining and inbounded to Miller, who was freed when Jason Kidd got caught on a screen by Jermaine O'Neal.
Miller caught the ball just inside the 3-point line and was five feet from any defender but his shot did not even hit the rim.
"When I didn't see Jason, I wish I would've taken more time," Miller said. "But knowing there was only eight-tenths of a second left, you tend to rush things. I live for these moments, these opportunities in the playoffs."
"He got a good look, he missed a shot," Indiana coach Isiah Thomas said. "The playoffs are about pressure. It's not something to be avoided. It comes with the territory."
Many of the Nets, who do not have the postseason experience Miller does, hardly could stand the drama of the final play.
"I did not look at it, I did not want to see what would happen," Nets forward Kenyon Martin said. "He's been making that shot his whole career so you expect it to be made tonight."
"I thought when Reggie caught the ball at the end we were in trouble," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "I know Reggie lives for that moment and my heart stopped a few beats."
Miller gave the Pacers their last lead, 83-82 when he beat the shot clock with a long 3-pointer with 34 seconds to go.
Kidd missed a jumper on New Jersey's next possession, but Keith Van Horn grabbed the offensive rebound . Kerry Kittles wound up with a wide-open 3-pointer and buried the shot to give the Nets an 85-83 edge with 23 seconds left.
"There was no hesitation," Kittles said. "I knew I was wide open and I knew once Jason swung it over I could tee it up. I knew it was going in as soon as I released it. It's big for my teammates, it was a big shot for us."
The Pacers went to O'Neal, who had his shot blocked by Aaron Williams before regaining possession and getting fouled. He made the first free throw but missed the second and Williams pulled down the rebound.
Williams was fouled with eight-tenths of a second remaining and missed both free throws. He did not hit the rim on his second attempt, allowing the Pacers to inbounds the ball at halfcourt for the final shot.
"I tried to make the first and miss the second, but it didn't work out," Williams said. "I should've tried to make it, I probable would've missed it anyway."
Kidd had 24 points and 11 assists and Van Horn had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the top-seeded Nets, who snapped a five-game road losing streak in the playoffs.
Martin and O'Neal were engaged in a war of words throughout the week but the New Jersey forward clearly won the head-to-head matchup.
Martin had 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting while O'Neal made just 5-of-17 shots and scored 12 points.
"We aren't going to get caught up in word games," Kidd said. "We stayed together, came out and won a big game on the road. I believe in my teammates."
Miller scored 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting and Ron Artest, who scored just four points on 1-of-11 shooting in Game Two, had 11 points.
The Nets can win their first playoff series with a victory in Tuesday's Game Four.
"We do not have anything to prove to anyone," Martin said. "We know we're a good team, our goal is now to finish it out on Tuesday. We don't want to go back to Jersey. It would be nice if Game Four were there, but it's not."
"We are closer to our goal," Scott said. "No we have home-court advantage, but the Pacers are a good team, this is going to be no easy task."
Kidd scored 10 points in the first seven minutes as the Nets jumped out to a 15-6 lead. New Jersey went into halftime with a 44-37 advantage but was not prepared for Indiana in the third quarter.
Miller scored 10 points as the Pacers made 12-of-20 shots in the period. The Nets had a nine-point lead less than a minute into the quarter but were outscored 23-8 over the next eight minutes.
"They came out with more energy and we knew they would," Martin said. "But we kept them in our distance and we went to the fourth quarter within arm's reach. We'll take that all the time."
O'Neal's jumper gave Indiana its largest lead, 63-56 with 3:22 to go, but Kidd and Martin made layups before Lucious Harris tied it with a jumper.
The teams were tied four times and exchanged the lead three times before Miller's 3-pointer gave the Pacers their final lead.