INDIANAPOLIS, May 13 (Ticker) --
The hardened Indiana Pacers may have
cracked, but they again would not break.
scored six points in the final 1:21 as the Pacers
recovered from blowing a big fourth-quarter lead and posted a
79-74 victory over the Detroit Pistons to take a 2-1 lead in the
Eastern Conference semifinals.
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Having battled adversity all season, the Pacers were manhandled
in the series opener, then used a big-second half from Miller
and a monster game from Jeff Foster
in Game Two to even things
up with the defending champions.
The sixth-seeded Pacers controlled this game with their defense
for the first three quarters and held a 61-47 lead with 10:59
remaining on a 3-pointer by Anthony Johnson
But the Pistons battled back and took a 72-71 lead with 2:09
left on two free throws by Chauncey Billups
. It was their first
lead since Ben Wallace
hit a jumper 13 seconds into the
Miller, who struggled from the floor, made two free throws with
1:21 left to give the Pacers the lead for good. After Dale Davis
blocked Billups inside and Rasheed Wallace missed a
3-pointer, Miller sank two free throws with 59 seconds left for
a 75-72 lead.
Foster, who had 12 rebounds, made two free throws and Rasheed Wallace
drilled a jumper, pulling the Pistons within 77-74 with
31 seconds to go.
Following a timeout, Miller came off a patented screen and
appeared to give Lindsey Hunter a slight shove with his arm
before drilling a 21-footer with 10 seconds left to seal things.
Miller made just 3-of-11 shots.
"The players should decide it," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
"The referee didn't make a call, whether it was a charge or
flop, and Reggie made the shot. They made more free throws, we
had more fouls and Jermaine O'Neal
fouled out with 2:30 left. I
don't want to hear it. Not with the season we've had."
Miller's clutch jumper was the Pacers' only basket in the final
"It was an unbelievable shot he hit," Pistons coach Larry Brown
said. "He got in position and like I always say, great players
make great plays."
"Having Reggie in the end is always a good thing," Foster said.
"We know that we can count in him."
Miller scored eight of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and
had 16 and six assists for the sixth-seeded
Pacers, who host Game Four on Sunday.
Billups scored 23 points and Richard Hamilton
16 for the
second-seeded Pistons, who lost consecutive games just once en
route to the 2004 title, dropping the middle three games of the
Rasheed Wallace made a prediction about Sunday's game.
"We are definitely going back to Detroit with this thing 2-2, no
question about it," he said.
Hamilton, hobbled by an injury to his right calf, struggled in
the first three quarters before coming on late. He grabbed
Miller's jersey and fouled out with 1:21 left.
"I got called for holding against Rip (Hamilton) when we were
away from the ball, and his sixth foul was exactly the same foul
that was called on me," Miller said. "I thought both calls
were correct. ... I don't think those should be called in
playoff basketball, but if you call it on me, you have to call
it on him."
O'Neal made two free throws with 6:36 left in the fourth
quarter, giving the Pacers a 67-55 lead.
It was an ineffective game for O'Neal, who scored just eight
points on 2-of-11 shooting before fouling out with 2:30
Hamilton and Billups followed with consecutive three-point plays
to trigger a 17-4 burst. Billups capped the surge with his two
free throws with 2:09 left to give the Pistons their only lead
of the second half.
The Pacers used their defense to set the tone. They held the
Pistons to just 11 points on 28 percent (5-of-18) shooting in
the first quarter and 31 percent (15-of-48) in the half in
building a 42-28 lead.
"They play team defense, like we do," Billups said. "And they
are making it tough on our shots."
Tinsley keyed the offense in the first half, scoring 13 points
on 5-of-6 shooting.
"He's the one who makes our offense go," O'Neal said. "He's the
one pushing the ball up and getting guys good shots. The bigs
have to honor him, and if they don't step up, then he's going up
with a shot. I don't think there's too many guards in this
league who can stay in front of him. He really carried us
tonight, in the first quarter, when no one else could get
Johnson added nine points and five assists for Indiana, which
held a 25-6 advantage in bench points.
Indiana led by double digits the entire third quarter before
settling for a 58-45 advantage entering the final period.
Miller and Tinsley were the only players to score in double
figures for the Pacers, who shot 36 percent (26-of-72). Detroit
recovered a bit in the second half and shot 37 percent
The Pistons hurt themselves with 18 turnovers that the Pacers
converted into 17 points. Tayshaun Prince
and Hamilton each had