INDIANAPOLIS, May 19 (Ticker) --
While Reggie Miller
did all he could
to keep alive his career for one more game, his counterpart
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.
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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
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
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
and Hamilton both hit a pair of free throws for the
"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.
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
"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."