BOSTON, April 25 (Ticker) -- Reggie Miller
kept the Indiana Pacers in it
until they figured out a way to win it.
Miller scored 28 points but just two in the fourth quarter, when
the Pacers tightened the defensive screws and rallied for an
82-79 victory over the Boston Celtics that evened their Eastern
Conference series at one game each.
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In another display of the grit they have shown all season, the
sixth-seeded Pacers bounced back from an ugly loss in Game One
and stole home-court advantage from the third-seeded Celtics,
who scored just 10 points in the fourth quarter.
"There's no way this team is going to go quietly," Pacers coach
said. "No way. We've been through too much."
Miller, held to seven points on 1-of-7 shooting in the opener,
came out firing in Game Two. Repeatedly draining his patented
jumper, he scored 18 points in the first half as Indiana grabbed
a 47-42 lead.
Boston stormed back behind Paul Pierce
, who scored 17 of his 33
points in the third period, including the final five in the
quarter, giving Boston a 69-64 lead.
It was 76-70 with 4 1/2 minutes left after a free throw by Raef LaFrentz
before a basket and two free throws by Jermaine O'Neal
who aggravated his shoulder strain in the second quarter but
played through it and scored 13 points.
made a running hook shot at the 2:41 mark, but
that was Boston's last basket. Anthony Johnson
made a short
jumper and Stephen Jackson
tied it with a dunk after James Jones
made a phenomenal block of a driving layup by Ricky Davis
Walker missed two short shots and Johnson gave the Pacers the
lead for good at 80-78 on a layup with 1:09 to play. Pierce had
a chance to tie it, but split a pair of free throws.
"I was really disappointed in our defense down the stretch,"
Pierce said. "We gave up too many easy baskets. They got a
couple of dunks and a couple of layups. That can't happen. Not
in the playoffs. Not at home. Not anywhere."
Miller, quiet in the fourth quarter to that point, used a
headfake to step inside the 3-point circle and sank a 17-footer
on the move for an 82-79 edge with 37 seconds left.
"We had our lulls tonight but I think the tempo was set just
right," Miller said. "We didn't get into a windshield wiper
game like we did in Game One and we executed down the stretch."
Davis missed a pull-up jumper and Johnson missed a 20-footer,
giving the Celtics one last chance with 5.4 seconds left. But
Pierce, perhaps sensing an intentional foul, rushed a 3-pointer
that was rebounded by Johnson, who dribbled out the clock.
Jackson scored 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter and
Johnson added nine and seven assists for the Pacers, who won
despite being beaten on the boards (44-31) and at the line
"The fourth quarter was kind of how our year had been going,"
Jackson said. "Dealing with adversity and going through ups and
downs. We've been playing against the odds all season. This
team is a strong team."
Walker scored 19 points but was the only other Celtic in double
figures. Boston shot under 39 percent (26-of-67).
"They made us work a little bit and we missed a couple of shots
that we usually make," he said. "They're not going to give you
anything. They made the shots that were necessary to win the
Davis, who was talking about a sweep during Game One, had a
terrible game with just six points on 1-of-8 shooting. He
committed five turnovers before fouling out in the final minute.
After the game, Davis went on the defensive.
"I want to know what I said," he barked. "Somebody said I
talked about a sweep. It would be stupid of me to talk about a
sweep. I want to know where it came from."
The series shifts to Indiana for Games Three and Four on
Thursday and Saturday.
The game took on a similar pattern to the opener. The Pacers
made their first four 3-pointers and jumped to a 13-2 lead. The
Celtics rallied behind their bench before things again got
But this one was ugly due to a lack of flow rather than a lack
of competition as both teams were content to walk it up and run
isolation sets. Jones hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to
cap a 7-0 burst.
"As starters, we have to a better job of getting this team off
to a better start," Pierce said. "The last two games, we
haven't been getting off to great starts."