INDIANAPOLIS, April 28 (Ticker) -- Reggie Miller
, Jermaine O'Neal
Indiana Pacers are focused. Antoine Walker
and the Boston
Celtics are frustrated.
Miller scored 33 points and O'Neal added 21 and 11 rebounds as
the Pacers posted a convincing 99-76 victory over the Celtics
and grabbed a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round
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"The last three ballgames, we've really gotten off to good
starts," Miller said. "From the beginning, we moved the ball
well, everybody touched it and we got some easy ones. Jermaine
did a good job of getting involved quickly, maintaining the
focus and opening it up for us."
Three nights after stealing home-court advantage with a win in
Game Two, the sixth-seeded Pacers kept it, along with their
cool. The same could not be said for the third-seeded Celtics,
who appear to be feeling the pressure of the postseason and are
not reacting well to it.
"What can I say? We got our tails kicked tonight," Celtics
coach Doc Rivers
said. "The team we played tonight was more
physical than us, and they were the aggressor for about 40 of
the 48 minutes. They competed harder than us. They got all the
loose balls. This (Indiana) is a team that has been together
for a long time. If we try to play tit-for-tat with them and
think our way through the series, we won't do well."
Miller was held to seven points on 1-of-7 shooting in Indiana's
Game 1 loss but has been the driving force of its two wins.
After scoring 28 points in Game 2, he was even better in this
one, making 10-of-16 shots and 11-of-12 free throws while adding
seven rebounds for good measure.
"I just tried to be aggressive," the 39-year-old Miller said.
"Jermaine isn't 100 percent and it's our job to pick him up.
I've had some great screens to come off of because our bigs are
doing a great job. It's kind of an out-of-body experience for me
right now. I'm not supposed to be doing it, but I prepare
myself just in case coach calls my number and he's been calling
it a lot lately."
O'Neal, who had his sprained shoulder aggravated in Game 2,
showed no effect of the injury. The All-Star power forward
scored 10 points in the second quarter, when the Pacers took
control for good, building a 55-38 halftime lead. The Celtics
got no closer than seven points thereafter.
"The guy has a lot of heart," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
"Everybody is banged up and he has taken responsibility to raise
his game and we really needed it. It was important for him to
play in Games 1 and 2 to get back into the feel of the game
and, after tonight, I think he's feeling better."
Boston has not played well since their huge first half of Game
1 and at times appeared more interested in getting under the
skin of the Pacers than getting the lead under double digits.
"Overall, aside from a couple of skirmishes, it was a well-fought
game on both sides," Carlisle said. "Typical playoff game, we
fought hard, and I'm encouraged by that."
Walker was the prime culprit. In addition to making just
5-of-16 shots, he twice went after O'Neal and earned himself an
ejection - and perhaps a suspension.
Midway through the third quarter, Walker fouled O'Neal, then
hooked his arm and tried to throw him to the floor. O'Neal came
up angry and the players had to be separated, with Walker
receiving a technical foul.
With 4:06 to play and the outcome decided, Walker clubbed a
driving O'Neal on the head and threw an elbow at him. O'Neal
responded with a shove to the chest and both players received
"I'm built for this," O'Neal said. "This is playoff basketball
and I'm built for this. You can keep taking hard fouls on me and
I'm going to keep getting up. People do things and say things;
I don't take it personally. The fouls after the whistle I
didn't like, but it's part of the game. Getting angry only
makes you lose focus and make mistakes, so I'll be more cautious
next game, but not angry. Like I said, I'm built for this."
Upon learning he had been ejected, Walker went after referee
Bennett Salvatore, tossing aside referee Tom Washington in the
process. Physical contact with a referee usually results in a
suspension. He was in no mood to discuss the possible
"Next question, man. Why do you want to talk about that?" said
Walker, still visibly frustrated. "I don't want to talk about
it and I'm not worried about it. Suspend me if you want to."
"Whenever we've had hard fouls in a physical game situation, the
NBA office has came down hard on us," Pacers guard Anthony Johnson
said. "It happened to me recently in the Miami game, so
we definitely expect for them to review the tape and come down
hard on them, too."
Walker merely got to the locker room a bit early. Miller saw to
that with 15 points in the fourth quarter, including seven in a
row in a 12-0 burst that gave Indiana an 83-62 lead with 6:17
scored 10 points for the Pacers, who shot 47
percent (32-of-68), attempted 21 more free throws and held a
44-39 advantage on the boards.
Indiana hosts Game 4 on Saturday.
scored 19 points and Gary Payton
added 15 for
Boston, which shot under 40 percent (31-of-78) and never led
after the first six minutes. The Celtics were within 31-27
early in the second period before Miller and O'Neal combined for
the next 15 points for the Pacers, opening a 46-32 advantage.
"They played hard and did what they were supposed to do - they
got a win," Payton said. "Everything went a little crazy there
for a minute. We aren't frustrated, we just need to come ready
to play Game Four. It's not a life-or-death thing. If we win
Saturday, we'll be fine. We just need to put this one out of
our minds and go to work."