Pacers take down Celtics

Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2005


  Boston Celtics guard Tony Allen pulls his jersey over his face after being called for a technical foul for exchanging words with Indiana Pacers' Reggie Miller in the third quarter during the second game of their NBA Playoff series in Boston, Monday April 25, 2005. AP Photo/Charles krupa

Boston Celtics guard Tony Allen pulls his jersey over his face after being called for a technical foul for exchanging words with Indiana Pacers' Reggie Miller in the third quarter during the second game of their NBA Playoff series in Boston, Monday April 25, 2005.

AP Photo/Charles krupa

BOSTON — Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers climbed out of another hole, just as they've done all season.

Now they have home-court advantage in their playoff series with the Boston Celtics.

Miller scored 28 points and the Pacers beat the Celtics 82-79 Monday night two days after he had just seven points in a 102-82 loss in the opener of their playoff series.

''After what happened in Game 1, we all knew he would come back in a big way,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said after they tied the series 1-1. ''He is the guy you want on your team this time of year. We'll keep riding him as long as we can.''

The best-of-seven series shifts to Indiana on Thursday night for Game 3.

Miller plans to retire after the season, but still had a big shot left in his 39-year-old body. He sank a running jump shot with 37 seconds to go from 17 feet for the game's final points after deciding to forgo a 3-point attempt when he saw Ricky Davis running at him.

He dribbled and ''got by him a couple of steps and just pulled up,'' Miller said.

Simple as that for a veteran who has seen just about every defensive approach in his 18 NBA seasons.

But he said he's not more emotional because this is his last season.

''Not at all. I'm locked into a great playoff series,'' he said. ''I'm very encouraged how we played, for the most part.''

That was no surprise to the Celtics.

''We knew the Pacers were going to come out with a better effort,'' said Paul Pierce, who led Boston with 33 points. ''Reggie did a great job carrying this team.''

Miller hit 9-of-18 shots after going 1-for-7 in the opener. The Pacers have needed him because of all the key players they lost for long stretches.

After the melee on Nov. 19 at Detroit when several of them went into the stands, Ron Artest was suspended for the rest of the season and the playoffs, Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal for 15.

Then O'Neal missed 22 games with a sprained right shoulder before returning with just three games left. But said he doesn't expect to make his usual offensive contributions for the rest of the playoffs.

And starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley is still sidelined after missing the last 29 regular-season games with a bruised left foot.

Still, the team that made it to last year's Eastern Conference finals, where it lost to Detroit, managed to get the No. 6 seed in this year's playoffs.

''The fourth quarter was kind of how our season's gone, playing through adversity, going through ups and downs,'' said Jackson, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter. ''Any adversity we go through is nothing to us now.''

Boston had taken its biggest lead, 75-68, on Davis' basket with 8:21 remaining. But Indiana outscored the Celtics 18-10 in the fourth quarter, which began with the Celtics leading 69-64.

Antoine Walker, who had 19 points, hit a layup that put Boston ahead 78-74 with 2:41 left. Anthony Johnson's short jumper cut the lead to two and Indiana tied the game on Jackson's dunk with 1:41 to go. Then Johnson hit an easy layup and Pierce made one of two free throws, leaving Indiana ahead 80-79 with 56 seconds remaining.

Pierce had a chance to tie it, but missed a very long 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds to go.

''We were not as aggressive (as they were Saturday) and that's something we have to do offensively,'' Pierce said.

The Celtics also can do a better job of speeding up the tempo and not get into the Pacers' preferred halfcourt style.

''I don't care if it's not a track meet,'' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. ''We still had many chances in this game to win the game.''

But the Celtics made only 39 percent of their shots and went just 3-for-13 on 3-pointers. They missed their last four shots of the game, but were as concerned about their defense, particularly down the stretch.

''We gave up too many easy baskets,'' Pierce said. ''They got a couple dunks, couple layups and that can't happen in the playoffs.''

It did and now the Pacers prepare for Game 3 after taking home-court advantage from the Celtics, who were 27-14 in Boston this season.

''The question I've been getting the last two days is whether our team has anything left in the tank'' after all the adversity of the season, Carlisle said. ''There's no way this team is going to go quietly.''

Rockets 113, Mavericks 111

DALLAS — With Shaq and Kobe broken up, get ready for the era of Yao and T-Mac. It arrived in Game 2 of the playoffs.

Yao Ming scored 33 points on 13-of-14 shooting — with his only miss arguably being more of a turnover — and Tracy McGrady added 28, but it was their spectacular baskets in the final 1:07 that mattered most in Houston's thrilling 113-111 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

The Rockets trailed 102-95 with 5:36 left, but McGrady began a go-ahead run of six straight shots with another of his amazing jumpers. When the Mavericks tied it at 109, the dynamic duo came through again, with McGrady driving to the rim, then slipping the ball to Yao for an easy dunk with 1:06 left.

Dallas tied it again, though, when Dirk Nowitzki — who broke out of his series-long slump midway through the fourth quarter — faked McGrady several times and nailed a jumper from around the free throw line with 10.4 seconds left.

McGrady, however, never hesitated. Not even looking to the bench for a possible timeout, he inbounded the ball, got it back right away and went to the top right of the 3-point line. Setting up behind a Yao screen, he buried a long 2-pointer, then made a sneering gesture as the Mavericks called time.

Given one last chance to salvage a split at home, Dallas failed when Michael Finley missed a decent look from near the top of the key.

The series moves to Houston for Game 3 on Thursday night. The Rockets will be carrying a nine-game winning streak, while the Mavs will be reeling from their first consecutive losses under coach Avery Johnson. They came into the playoffs 16-2 in his first five weeks since replacing Don Nelson and now have two losses in three days.

The first concern for Dallas is getting Nowitzki going. He was 4-of-17 — and 9-of-36 for the series — when he made a 16-footer in transition with 7:09 left. He scored again on the next trip and put Dallas head 107-106 with 2:32 left on a hook over Yao.

Still, he finished 8-of-21 for 26 points. He had just two rebounds and committed three turnovers.

Five other Mavs scored in double figures, with Josh Howard putting up 17, Jason Terry 15 and Erick Dampier 14. Keith Van Horn came off the bench to score 13, going 5-for-6.

With Yao scoring his most points since getting 40 against Toronto on Dec. 20, and McGrady making 10 of 19 shots, the Rockets didn't need much else. They got 16 from Jon Barry, including three straight 3s early in the second quarter, and 14 from Bob Sura, including the 3-pointer that put Houston up 109-107.

It was only fitting that this game came down to the last shot considering how the teams fought on every possession. Someone wrote ''Energy, Effort, Excitement'' on a wipe board in Dallas' locker room before the game, and both teams embodied it throughout, much to the delight of 20,884 fans, the largest crowd in Mavs history.

Players were scrambling for loose balls and hurrying to help on defense. There were several collisions, one leaving Barry's nose bloodied, another sending Houston's Ryan Bowen to the locker room to check his ankle. And that was just in the first half.

The Rockets led the entire first half, by as much as eight, but the Mavericks gained control early in the second half — for the first time since 12-10 in Game 1 — and were ahead most of the last two quarters.

McGrady still had his share of highlight-reel plays, though not as many as the opener. This time, he made Dallas pay for double-teaming him by swinging the ball around until finding the person left open by the second defender. Later, the Mavs covered him 1-on-1 with some decent results — until it mattered most.

Notes: When Mavs tied at 51 late in second quarter, the crowd became so loud that officials had trouble hearing Houston call timeout. ... With 38.9 seconds left before halftime and Dallas throwing the ball in near the Rockets' bench, Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy was on the wrong side of inbounder Michael Finley. When officials told him to move, he smirked and saluted. ... Mavs owner Mark Cuban posted on his blog Sunday the team's playoff record since 2002 based on who officiated each game. They came in 0-6 in games worked by Monday night's crew chief, Dan Crawford. They had at least one win for all other refs who worked at least three games. Dallas came in 1-3 under both of the other officials, Greg Willard and Mark Wunderlich.

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