Pacers bounce back, tie series with Pistons

Posted: Thursday, May 12, 2005


  Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace (36) reaches in on Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal during the first quarter in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, May 11, 2005. AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Detroit Pistons forward Rasheed Wallace (36) reaches in on Indiana Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal during the first quarter in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich., Wednesday, May 11, 2005.

AP Photo/Paul Sancya

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — The NBA's most resilient team bounced back again.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 22 points, Reggie Miller had 19 and Jeff Foster grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds Wednesday night to lead the Indiana Pacers past the Detroit Pistons 92-83 in Game 2, tying their Eastern Conference semifinal series 1-1.

''I don't think any pro team — in any sport — can handle what we've handled,'' O'Neal said before getting on the team bus. ''Our goals haven't changed. Our goals are to get to the NBA Finals, and win a championship. We still believe.''

Many wrote the Pacers off when their Nov. 19 brawl with the Pistons and their fans led to unprecedented suspensions, but the Pacers didn't let the loss of Ron Artest and others — or a slew of injuries later in the season — devastate them.

Indiana even pulled off a rare road win in a Game 7 of the first round at Boston to advance to play the defending NBA champions, who ended the Pacers' season in the conference finals last year.

''These guys have been tough. They've been through a lot,'' Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. ''When they get knocked down, they tend to get back up fighting.''

After losing Game 1 by 15, the Pacers trailed by 15 after the first quarter and didn't take the lead until there was 4:10 left in the third when Miller's 3-pointer capped an 11-4 run.

There were five lead changes in the fourth before the score was tied at 77 midway through the quarter. Miller's 3-pointer put Indiana ahead 82-77 with just under 5 minutes left.

The Pacers outrebounded Detroit 52-43 and had nine more steals.

''They did all the effort things that we did in Game 1,'' Pistons coach Larry Brown said. ''That was the key.

''When the game really meant something, they made every single effort play.''

The next two games in the best-of-seven series are in Indianapolis on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

''Nothing is secure for us at home. We lost twice at home against Boston,'' Miller said. ''That's probably a bad thing for us, and a good thing for Detroit.''

The Pistons had won eight straight home playoff games dating to last year's conference finals.

Foster gave the Pacers a huge lift off the bench with 14 points, two blocks, two steals and the best rebounding game of his six-year career.

''Jeff Foster did have a Ben Wallace-type performance,'' O'Neal said.

Wallace dominated Monday with 21 points, 15 rebounds and four steals, but was limited to three points — on 0-for-4 shooting — Wednesday.

Detroit's Tayshaun Prince scored 24, Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton each had 14 and Chauncey Billups scored 13. Hamilton played the second half with his right calf wrapped after hurting it in the first half.

''I think we played like a bunch of strangers and they had a lot to do with that,'' Brown said. ''We shot 50 percent in the first half. In the second half, we didn't pass the ball.''

Indiana's Jamaal Tinsley had 12 points — mostly on driving layups — and 12 assists while Stephen Jackson added 13 points. O'Neal prevented the Pacers from falling behind more than they did early with eight points in the first quarter, then led their third-quarter surge with 10 points. He finished with 10 rebounds and five blocks.

Miller, who plans to retire after the season, scored just two points in each of the first two quarters before scoring 15 in the second half. He scored six points in the series opener.

''Reggie was phenomenal when the game was on the line,'' Brown said.

Detroit started the second quarter ahead 33-18 with Prince scoring 11 — three more than he had in Game 1 — and Hamilton adding eight points.

''Things were not looking real good,'' Carlisle said.

The Pistons led 50-40 at halftime, then fell behind by five in the third before going back ahead.

Mavericks 108, Suns 106

PHOENIX — The Dallas Mavericks slowed things down and played a little rough in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Michael Finley was phenomenal from the field, and Dirk Nowitzki hit a 12-footer with 6.8 seconds left to give Dallas a rugged 108-106 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night to square the best-of-seven series 1-1. Game 3 is Friday night in Dallas.

Quentin Richardson's 3-point attempt for Phoenix bounced off the back rim at the buzzer.

Finley scored 31 points, shooting 5-of-6 on 3-pointers and 12-of-18 overall, and Nowitzki added 23 points and 12 rebounds as the Mavericks bounced back from a 127-102 blowout loss in Game 1.

Erick Dampier, called out publicly by Nowitzki after being outscored by Amare Stoudemire 40-0 in Game 1, had 15 points, 10 in the first quarter, and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Stoudemire had 30 points and 16 rebounds for the Suns, who lost Joe Johnson to a mild concussion from a hard foul from Jerry Stackhouse with 19.7 seconds left in the first half. Steve Nash had 23 points and 13 assists and Shawn Marion added 23 points and 15 rebounds.

It was the first playoff loss for the Suns after five victories and erased the homecourt advantage they had earned with an NBA-best 62-win regular season.

Nowitzki sank two free throws to put Dallas ahead 106-102 with 1:55 to play, then Stoudemire missed a dunk and a layup on consecutive possessions. But Marion blocked Nowitzki's shot, and Stoudemire dunked on a pick-and-roll feed from Nash to cut it to 106-104 with 50.9 seconds to play.

Jason Terry threw the ball away on the next possession, and Nash's 18-footer tied it at 106 with 27.4 seconds left. After a timeout, the Mavs got the ball to Nowitzki, who worked his way inside and got the game-winning shot off over Richardson.

On the final sequence, Nash penetrated but was met by Nowitzki, then got the ball to Richardson. He dribbled away from a defender, then let go the 3-pointer that was just long and to the right.

With 19.7 seconds left in the first half, Johnson was fouled hard by Stackhouse on a drive to the basket and fell face-first to the court. He stayed on the floor while he got six stitches to close a cut near his left eye.

Referee Dick Bavetta belatedly called it a flagrant foul. Johnson, looking like a boxer who lost a fight, eventually got to his feet to the cheers of the crowd. He made one of two free throws before leaving the game for good. After the game, the Suns said Johnson had fractured an orbital bone and would miss Game 3. Johnson also suffered a concussion and was to remain hospitalized overnight.

The Suns erased Dallas' 54-46 halftime lead in first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half.

On a 13-2 run, Phoenix took its first lead since the opening minute, 57-56, on Stoudemire's stuff with 9:36 left in the third. Stoudemire's tip-in capped the outburst to put Phoenix ahead 59-56.

The Mavericks, who led by as many as 14 in the first half, were scoreless for a 3:50 stretch in the fourth quarter, but the Suns only managed five points during the drought to lead 94-92.

Dampier had called Nowitzki's remarks ''totally stupid,'' and coach Avery Johnson said he met with both of them to end the squabble.

''I told them I was proud of them showing so much emotion, showing that they care,'' the Mavs' coach said before the game, ''but I don't want anyone showing up their teammates in public.''

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