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Oh, What a Feeling!
Jack McCallum
November 07, 1994
The Indiana Pacers' Reggie Miller recalls last spring's most memorable quarter, shot by unerring shot
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November 07, 1994

Oh, What A Feeling!

The Indiana Pacers' Reggie Miller recalls last spring's most memorable quarter, shot by unerring shot

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Miller's first basket of the fourth quarter came 50 seconds into the period, when, as he ran leisurely on the wing of a controlled fast break, he stepped back behind a pick set unconsciously by teammate Kenny Williams and hit a three-pointer. "The key to that was that I had studied the Knick defense," said Miller. "Their strategy on fast breaks is to retreat to the paint and then to spread out. So, I trotted up slowly, saw [Knick defender John] Starks back in the paint playing penetration, used Kenny as a screen and got off the three. Easy."

Miller's second basket came on an in-bounds play at 10:23. Starks had been replaced by 6'5" guard Hubert Davis, who was now assigned to cover Miller. "I was aware they had made a lineup change, of course, and I knew I could run circles around Hubert," said Miller. He found himself out on the right side all alone and took a pass from Williams for another three-pointer.

"Our offense has no set plays to get me a three, except if we need one at the end of the game or something like that," said Miller. "But in this case, I could see that Tank"—the Pacers' muscular frontcourtman LaSalle Thompson—"was going to get Davis, pick him off and take him right out of the way. So I floated out and was all alone. My theory on shots when I'm all alone is that I should make 70 percent of them. I don't think other players set standards that high. That's a mistake."

Miller's third field goal came at the 9:14 mark, when he drove right on 6'2" Knick reserve guard Greg Anthony, pulled up, pump-faked and swished a 15-footer. "I feel I have an advantage on most defenders because of my height [6'7"] and long arms, and when I keep the ball up I'm tough to stop," said Miller.

"I can remember my shot in sixth and seventh grade—a one-handed push shot that started way down by my hip. It wasn't until my sophomore year in high school that I got a real jump shot."

Miller's fourth basket was a 20-footer from the left corner with no Knick within six feet of him. Starks, who was now back guarding Miller, got caught in a pile of bodies as Miller, using various picks, crossed from the right side to the left. The play clearly illustrated the fact that half of a shooter's battle is running an obstacle course as he attempts to get open. "Most teams' strategy in stopping Reggie is to beat him up before he gets the ball," says Pacer assistant coach George Irvine. Miller professes not to care. He says he has gotten stronger by working in the weight room (though you can't tell it by his pipestem arms) and enjoys the hand-to-hand combat that goes along with being a jump shooter.

"There are all sorts of techniques you can use, but they're hard to talk about because you have to see them develop in the game," says Miller. "For example, an aggressive team like the Knicks is always stepping out and giving you a shot, chucking you as you go by. Your own guy chucks you. Then, as you run past a screen, the guy guarding the screener steps out and chucks you. That's O.K. Sometimes if you delay, then suddenly speed up, you can make the defender hit his own guy. That's fun.

"Or, if he's real aggressive, he's going to take himself out of position if you use change of pace. It's all reading the court. It's part of the jump shooter's game."

That fourth field goal also showed Miller's relative disregard for the three-point line; he could have stepped back and taken a trey but did not. "I never want to be conscious of the line," he said. "I never get ticked off, like some guys do, if my foot's on the line and I get a two instead of a three. It's too difficult just to get open. My eyes are looking ahead of me, to the point where I'm going to get the pass and take my shot, so they can't be looking down at the floor.

"Will it be different with the new three-point line? It might be. I don't like it," Miller declared. "There'll be more of a tendency to look down now and see where you are, and I don't think that's a good thing."

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