EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ, April 20 (Ticker) --
The New Jersey Nets
managed to slow down Jermaine O'Neal
, but in the end, they could
not contain the Millers.
O'Neal scored 24 of his 30 points in the first half and Reggie
and Brad Miller
combined for 13 fourth-quarter points as
the Indiana Pacers held off the Nets, 89-83, in Game One of
their first-round Eastern Conference series.
It marked the second straight year Indiana won the playoff
opener on the home court of the top seed in the East. Last
year, the Pacers stunned the Philadelphia 76ers, then lost three
in a row.
"I think it's pretty much the same," Reggie Miller said. "We
played not as well as we should have last year against Philly
and we got a victory. That was pretty much the same today as we
played well in spurts. We let New Jersey back in the ballgame
and made a game of it. But we found some way to win. Hopefully
it won't turn on us and lose three in a row like last year
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Brad Miller scored seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, and pulled down 12 boards in the game.
Jesse D. Garrabrant
En route to a playoff career high, O'Neal connected on 11-of-16
shots in the first half, when Indiana shot 57 percent (21-of-37)
and opened a 52-42 lead. He made just two shots in the third
quarter, when New Jersey rallied, and picked up his fourth foul
early in the final period.
"We said if a guy is going to play me 1-on-1, I am going to make
him pay," said O'Neal, an All-Star for the first time this
season. "I really think the entire game on Monday, I will be
double-teamed right away. I was really surpised that they did
not double-team right away to start this game."
When Pacers coach Isiah Thomas rested O'Neal, Reggie Miller and
Brad Miller hit key shots.
Brad Miller, acquired with Ron Artest
and Ron Mercer
Chicago Bulls in a seven-player deal in February, had career
playoff bests of 18 points and 12 rebounds in 38 minutes.
"We have not played them once since the trade and we are a
totally different team than what they've seen in the scouting
tape," Brad Miller said. "I just think we really came out
determined because we wanted to get off to a good start in the
series. We have been playing good basketball over the last week
just to get into the playoffs, and the momentum from that just
carried into tonight."
Playing in his 105th career playoff game, Reggie Miller made
just 6-of-16 shots. But as he has throughout his 15-year
career, he hit a 3-pointer in a key situation.
After stealing a pass from Kenyon Martin
, he took a pass from
and nailed a 26-footer from the left wing to give
Indiana a 74-71 lead with 6:43 remaining.
"If we just play hard and we end up losing, that is all we can
ask for," Reggie Miller said. "They are supposed to beat us,
they are the No. 1 seed."
did his best to get his inexperienced teammates
involved and finished with 26 points, nine assists and eight
rebounds for New Jersey. But the Nets remained winless in the
postseason since a 93-92 overtime triumph over the New York
Knicks in the first round in 1994.
"I wasn't suprised," Kidd said. "I knew everyone was a little
nervous or anxious. For a young team, you just have to play
through that. Now we have a game under our belt. I think the
guys will be a little bit more in tune to what to expect now.
We can't worry about losing home court or getting home court
back. We have to take one game at a time. But you have to give
Indiana credit. They played a great game this afternoon.
Monday's game is big for us. We have to come out like it's a
Martin had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Keith Van Horn
points for the Nets.
Martin dunked off a missed jumper by Lucious Harris
to pull New
Jersey within 74-73 with 6:17 to go. Reggie Miller could not
handle a pass from Artest and Martin converted at the other
end, hitting a running bank shot to give the Nets their final
lead, 75-74, with 5:25 remaining.
Tinsley, who sat out nearly the entire third quarter with a knee
injury, put the Pacers ahead for good at 76-75 on a layup with
4:35 left off a steal by Artest. A bad pass by Martin was
picked off by Artest and he dunked to give the Pacers a
Martin took a pass from Kidd and made a layup to get the Nets
within 78-77 with 3:33 to go. Brad Miller responded as the
7-footer stepped out to the left baseline and nailed a 17-footer
for an 80-77 edge with 2:56 to play.
New Jersey closed within one for the final time with 1:58 left
when Kidd sliced through the lane for a layup. Reggie Miller
again responded with a clutch shot, banking one in from the
paint as he was fouled by Kidd.
After Miller made the free throw, Martin dunked to get the Nets
within 83-81 with 86 seconds remaining. Artest and Brad Miller
combined to make 6-of-8 free throws the rest of the way.
The Nets shot just 43 percent (16-of-37) in the first half but
used a 13-4 run to close within 58-57 when Van Horn hit a
3-pointer with 4:32 left in the third period.
O'Neal stopped the run with a jumper from just inside the
3-point line to give Indiana a 60-57 lead. O'Neal followed by
blocking Todd MacCulloch's
shot and Brad Miller made 1-of-2 free
throws to make it 61-57 with 3:19 left.
Reggie Miller hit a foul-line jumper and the Pacers took a
two-point lead into the fourth period.