MEMPHIS, Tenn., April 18 (Ticker) -- Mike Miller
's late-game heroics
nearly were nullified by an overzealous clock operator.
Miller scored nine of the game's final 11 points, including a
turnaround jumper as time expired, to lift the Memphis Grizzlies
to a 94-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
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The game was tied at 92-92 with 1.4 seconds left when Miller
came off a screen, caught the inbounds pass and swished a
jumper. However, the clock started early before Jason Williams
made the pass to Miller, which made it look like the ball was in
the forward's hand at the buzzer.
"I told one of the (officials), 'If that don't count, I've got
the slowest release in the NBA,'" Miller said. "With 1.4, you
can almost dribble and shoot it. The bottom line is they made a
mistake but they corrected it, so it worked out good for us."
"One of the (clock operators) pressed the button when Jason
faked the inbounds pass. That's what happened," said Grizzlies
forward Pau Gasol
, who added 20 points and six rebounds.
After the three officials convened for several minutes, referee
Steve Javie explained his decision to Spurs coach Gregg Popovich
, then walked to the scorer's table to proclaim Miller's
Javie and his crew declined comment after the game, though
Popovich seemed content with the ruling.
"It was a great game, a great play by (Memphis coach) Mike Fratello
and a great shot by Mike Miller," Popovich said. "He
launched a shot and nailed it. What can you do? I just wish
the refs took a little less time figuring it out. They did the
best job they could though."
"I felt the play was right," said Spurs star Tim Duncan
scored 17 points. "Mike got the shot off on time and it was
Spurs forward Glenn Robinson
, who scored a season-high 23 points
off the bench on 9-of-11 shooting, said Miller's shot should
not have counted.
"I felt it should have been overtime," he said. "I've never seen
an official take his call back. The shot was good, but the
horn didn't say that. It should've been overtime."
The Grizzlies were trailing, 90-85, with 1:11 left when Miller
hit a reverse layup followed by a 3-pointer to tie the game.
Duncan gave the Spurs the lead again on a jumper with 28
seconds left before Miller, who scored 28 points, tied the game
with another layup six seconds later.
"I'm proud of our guys. They played tough down the stretch,"
Fratello said. "We got big baskets when we needed to have them."
San Antonio came up empty on the other end when Robert Horry
narrowly missed a 3-pointer, setting up Miller's heroics.
Memphis will face top-seeded Phoenix (62-19) in the first
round of the playoffs. The teams split four meetings this
"Either team was going to be tough (in the playoffs)," said
Gasol, referring to both San Antonio and Phoenix. "Last year
wasn't a great playoffs for us. (San Antonio) played well and
they executed well. I think we have a better chance against
Phoenix, but you never know."
Memphis, which ended a four-game losing streak, qualified for
the playoffs Sunday when Minnesota lost to Seattle.
"A lot of people say we backed into the playoffs, but you can't
judge a season on four games," Miller said. "We have enough wins
to make the playoffs and that's the bottom line."
San Antonio, which will be the second seed, will face Denver in
the first round of the playoffs. The teams split four meetings