INDIANAPOLIS, May 19 (Ticker) -- While Reggie Miller did all he could to keep alive his career for one more game, his counterpart Richard Hamilton did more than enough to end it.

Miller scored 27 points in his final NBA game, but Hamilton scored 21 in the second half as the Detroit Pistons posted an 88-79 victory over the Indiana Pacers and clinched the Eastern Conference semifinals, 4-2.
NBA TV highlights from
Pistons-Pacers:
300k

News conference: 300k


The win was the Pistons' third straight in the series and advanced them to the Eastern Conference finals for the third season in a row. Detroit, which has eliminated Indiana each of the last two postseasons, opens the Eastern Conference finals with the Heat on Monday in Miami.

Miller, who played all 18 of his seasons with Indiana, finished his career with a vintage effort, making 11-of-16 shots and 4-of-8 3-pointers. Behind his play, the Pacers controlled throughout most of the first half, taking a 46-39 lead into the break.

Miller scored 17 points in the first half and finished an 8-1 run to close it out with one of his four 3-pointers.

The 18-year-veteran was one of just three Pacers to score more than six points and made four of his team's five 3-pointers.

"I approached this game the same way I do every game," Miller said. "We were facing elimination, so the pressure was raised."

"Tonight, I had mixed emotions," said Pistons coach Larry Brown, who coached Miller and the Pacers from 1993-97. "It's a big game for us. You don't want to go Game Seven, but you don't want to see (Miller's) career come to an end. I feel better because I thought he played great. He played like he was 22 years old, and I think we should cherish that."

The 39-year-old Miller had averaged just 11.4 points through the first five games of the series and had a combined eight baskets over his last three games. He matched that total just over a minute into the second half.

"(Miller) was feeling it tonight," Hamilton said. "For a guy his age, the way he was playing tonight was unbelievable. It was killing me to have a guy going off on me like that, but that's Reggie, he's going to get those shots."

Hamilton, who averaged just 14.0 points on 39 percent shooting over the last four games, took over in the third quarter. He scored 11 points in the period and gave Detroit its first lead, 62-61, with a pair of free throws with 2:10 remaining.

Indiana rebuilt its advantage to 68-62 early in the fourth, but Hamilton highlighted a 9-0 run that proved decisive. His layup with 8:36 left gave Detroit the lead for good, 69-68.

Miller's last points as a professional fittingly came on a 3-pointer with 91 seconds left, pulling the Pacers within 82-79.

Needing a stop at the other end, Indiana could not get it as Hamilton first knocked a ball out of bounds off Pacers forward Jeff Foster to preserve the possession and then hit a clutch jumper for an 84-79 lead with 53 seconds left.

The Pacers got the ball to Miller on their next possession, but his attempt from the arc was blocked by Ben Wallace. Chauncey Billups and Hamilton both hit a pair of free throws for the final margin.

"We had another vintage Reggie Miller performance," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "But tonight, the reality is we were beaten by a team that was simply better."

Hamilton scored 28 points and Billups 23 for Detroit, which was 22-of-24 from the free-throw line. Indiana attempted just seven foul shots, making two.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 22 points for the Pacers but just eight in the second half, when his club shot 39 percent.

Indiana raced to a 14-4 lead midway through the first quarter, during which Detroit shot 1-of-11. Billups scored 11 points in the second quarter to keep Detroit within striking distance.

"We looked a little tight (in the first half)," Brown said. "Thank God Chauncey bailed us out."

The Pistons managed to get within two points on multiple occasions in the first half before methodically chipping away in the second.

"In the second half, we played great," Brown said. "For the most part, we kept them off the boards, kept them off the free-throw line and we executed great."

Miller, who ranks 12th on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 25,279 points and leads all players with 2,560 3-pointers, keyed the Pacers' last surge to open the fourth.

He assisted on a jumper by O'Neal and again on an Anthony Johnson 3-pointer for a 68-62 advantage. Following a 15-4 run by Detroit, Miller made a 3-pointer of his own from long range to pull Indiana within 77-74 and prompt chants of "Reggie, Reggie" in Conseco Fieldhouse for the last time.

While Miller's career found an end, so did the Pacers' season, one of the most tumultuous in league history. The team's now infamous brawl with fans in Detroit on November 17 was followed by massive suspensions and a host of injuries. Miller was a constant in the club's resiliency.

"Truthfully, this has been the most trying season and the most challenging," Miller said. "The most rewarding part is that we brought this team, franchise and city together. This season was about finding ways to win. That was the most rewarding. I want to thank the fans for joining me on this ride."