Miller Bounces Back, Leads Pacers Past Wolves

by Conrad Brunner

October 18, 2002

Brad Miller scored nine of his 15 points from the free-throw line, including seven in the fourth period alone. (NBAE/Getty Images)
Miller Bounces Back, Leads
Pacers Past Minnesota in 4th

END RESULT
The start couldn't have been much worse for Brad Miller, but the finish looked much more familiar. Miller - who missed his first nine field goal attempts - scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers muscled past the Minnesota Timberwolves 88-83 in a preseason game on Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.

WHAT IT MEANS
The third consecutive win pushed the Pacers' record to 4-1. Minnesota had its eight-game preseason winning streak snapped and dropped to 3-1.

UP NEXT
The Pacers hit the road for the final three preseason games, beginning Saturday night against Atlanta in Huntsville, AL. It will be the second preseason meeting between the teams, with the Pacers beating the Hawks 86-84 on Oct. 12 in Evansville, IN.

TURNING POINT
The game was tied 73-all early in the fourth quarter and the Pacers had gone cold, missing nine shots in a row. But Miller carried the offense through the dry spell by repeatedly getting inside the Minnesota defense to draw fouls, making seven free throws in the final eight minutes. His jumper with 4:01 remaining started a clinching eight-point run that pushed the margin to 86-76. Miller scored six of the points in that run.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
The Pacers did not shoot well (.369) but forced 25 turnovers - including 14 steals - and converted them into 22 points. They also outrebounded the Wolves 46-40. Jermaine O'Neal returned to the starting lineup and produced 16 points and eight rebounds in 30 minutes. Mercer scored 16 with four steals, Brad Miller had 15 pounds and 14 rebounds and Jeff Foster had a solid game off the bench with 11 points and eight rebounds. Minnesota shot .397 for the game and just .681 from the free-throw line, missing 15 of 47 attempts. Kevin Garnett had 21 points in 29 minutes. Felipe Lopez came off the bench to score 18.

STRATEGY/PERSONNEL
An abysmal start prompted coach Isiah Thomas to yank the entire starting lineup. At that point, the starters were 1-of-11 from the field and trailed 12-5. The second unit promptly stabilized things, going on an 11-point run to put the Pacers up 18-17. The starters returned to start the second period and, led by Ron Mercer (10 points in the period) and Jermaine O'Neal (eight) found their rhythm.

NOTEWORTHY
The Pacers continue to produce strong defensive numbers. They entered the game third in the league in points allowed (84.8) and field goal percentage (.383) and maintained that standard against a Minnesota offense that ranked third (101.7). ... Minnesota committed 17 turnovers in the first half. ... The Pacers have forced an average of 22.2 turnovers per game while committing 22.8. ... This was the first game in Conseco Fieldhouse with the shot clocks and illuminated backboards and scorer's table. Brought in with the NBA's instant replay system, the lighting system is completely synchronized with the actual game clock. ... Reggie Miller (ankle), Ron Artest (finger) and Austin Croshere (foot) all missed the game for the Pacers. ... Terrell Brandon (leg), Joe Smith (groin) and Wally Szczerbiak (foot) sat out for the Timberwolves. ... Of the available players, Jamison Brewer, Primoz Brezec, Nate Green and Greg Foster did not play. ... Jonathan Bender picked up a flagrant foul for hammering Garnett from behind on a fast-break in the first quarter.

STAR OF THE GAME

BRAD MILLER
After missing his first nine shots, including three that were blocked, Miller scored 11 of his 15 points and pulled seven of his 14 rebounds in the fourth period.
UNSUNG HERO

RON MERCER
The veteran shooting guard continued his impressive preseason with 16 points and four steals. He was 8-of-12 from the field.
QUOTEBOOK

ISIAH THOMAS
"Our defensive effort was outstanding. I didn't like the way the first unit started the game, but the second unit came in and lit a fire under us, we got after people and really started defending."
STAT OF THE GAME
When Jonathan Bender hit a 3-pointer with 8:14 left in the third period, it snapped a streak that had reached 17 consecutive 3-pointers missed by the Pacers dating back 12 periods, to the second quarter of the second preseason game against New Orleans in Evansville, IN.
HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points off turnovers:
Pacers 22, Timberwolves 21
Points in the paint:
Pacers 34, Timberwolves 28
Second-chance points:
Timberwolves 14, Pacers 13
Fast-break points: Pacers 16, Timberwolves 11
Starters scoring: Pacers 55, Timberwolves 40
Bench scoring: Timberwolves 43, Pacers 33
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