Miller Strikes Once More as Pacers Stun Grizzlies

by Conrad Brunner

January 30, 2002


Without Rose's offensive contributions throughout the game, the dramatic finish would've never been possible. Rose was the only source of scoring for most of the night, producing 25 points and adding seven rebounds and six assists in one of his most complete games in weeks.

Like most of his teammates, Bender struggled mightily to find a shooting rhythm for most of the game but found it at a critical time, hitting a pair of 3-pointers that got the Pacers started on the game-closing 17-3 run. Bender finished with 12 points and six rebounds.

"In the last minute of a game, no matter if he's 0-for-7 or 0-for-9 or whatever, he (Reggie Miller) pushes a button and another guy comes out. ... I've seen a lot of clutch shooters in this league. I don't think I've ever seen a guy make as many clutch shots as he has, time and time and time again."
This was the Pacers' eighth victory after trailing through three periods, the most of any NBA team. It was the Grizzlies' sixth loss when leading after three periods, the second-most in the league. The Pacers lead in that category, as well, with seven.
Points off turnovers: Pacers 12, Grizzlies 12
Points in the paint: Grizzlies 40, Pacers 26
Second-chance points: Pacers 13, Grizzlies 6
Fast-break points: Grizzlies 16, Pacers 14
Starters scoring: Pacers 74, Grizzlies 65
Bench scoring: Grizzlies 17, Pacers 9
Isiah Thomas summed it up best. "We probably didn't deserve it," said the Pacers' coach, "but we'll take it." After playing dreadfully for most of the game, the Pacers finally found life at the 3-point line in the final four minutes, putting together a game-closing 17-3 run to overcome a 13-point deficit and beat the Grizzlies 83-82. Reggie Miller, who had missed all seven of his shots in the first 47 minutes, made consecutive 3-pointers in the final minute to deliver the victory.

For the ninth time, the Pacers entered a game with a .500 record. For the eighth time - and sixth in a row - they emerged with a victory, improving to 24-23. They haven't fallen below .500 since an 8-9 mark on Nov. 27. Memphis lost for the eighth time in nine games to fall to 13-32. The Pacers remain the only team the Grizzlies haven't beaten, going 0-12 all-time.

Their old rivals, the New York Knicks, visit Conseco Fieldhouse on Friday at 7 p.m. It'll be the third and final meeting of the season, with each team winning once thus far. The Pacers beat the Knicks 103-95 at home on Nov. 8 and the favor was returned in Madison Square Garden, 101-99, on Dec. 8. The Pacers have won six of the last seven meetings in Indianapolis.

Memphis seized momentum at the beginning of the third quarter and kept it for the first 19 minutes of the half, appearing to have things well in hand after Shane Battier made a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 79-66 with 4:55 remaining. But a pair of 3-pointers from Bender gave the Pacers life, brought the crowd into the game and put the Grizzlies squarely on their heels. Still, Memphis led 82-77 with 1:06 left, but then came Miller's first basket of the night, a right-wing 3-pointer with 57.3 seconds left. The Grizzlies had two shots at closing out the game on their next possession, but Battier missed a dunk that was deflected out of bounds by Bender - but didn't touch the rim, leaving Memphis just 6 seconds on the shot clock. On the ensuing inbounds play, the Grizzlies couldn't get off a shot in time and committed a 24-second violation with 32.7 seconds left. The Pacers promptly set up the same play for Miller, who got enough room to shoot when Battier got hung up on Jermaine O'Neal's baseline screen and hit the game-winner with 18.9 seconds left. Plenty of time remained to get a final shot but the Grizzlies could do no better than a harried 22-footer from Knight, their worst perimeter shooter, that missed badly just before the buzzer.

The Pacers shot .392 overall, were outrebounded 44-43 and dominated inside (Memphis held a 40-26 edge in points in the paint) but outscored the visitors 20-14 at the free throw line and 15-6 from the arc to offset their disadvantages. Rose scored 25 with seven rebounds and six assists. O'Neal struggled to a 7-of-19 shooting night, producing 17 points, 11 rebounds and 7 blocked shots. Bender had 12 points and 6 rebounds and Travis Best had 12 points and 5 assists in his first start of the season. Battier scored 19 of his game-high 27 points in the first half for the Grizzlies. Fellow rookie Pau Gasol didn't shoot well (6 of 17) but produced 18 points and 13 rebounds. Knight had 12 points and 13 assists, and Rodney Buford scored 10 off the bench.

Without Jamaal Tinsley (strained left hip and groin), Thomas opted to give Best his first start since last year's playoffs at the point but the results were mixed as the offense tended to stagnate with Best's walk-it-up approach. There was little help from the bench (the three reserves who played combined for nine points on 3-of-12 shooting, so the starters had to play heavy minutes and deal with numerous mismatches posed by the tall, athletic Grizzlies, particularly Gasol, Battier and Stromile Swift. Foul trouble also complicated the matter, as three players had three fouls in the first half. Though Jeff Foster eventually fouled out, the fouls were well-managed in the second half. The Grizzlies opened the third period on a 10-0 run for a 49-41 lead that prompted Thomas to replace Best with Foster and move Rose to the point, but that had little effect. The Grizzlies continued to extend the lead as the Pacers missed 10 of their first 11 shots of the second half. One opening for a comeback occurred in a four-minute span bridging the third and fourth periods, when Memphis missed seven consecutive shots. But the Pacers squandered the opportunity, managing to cut only four points from what had been a 12-point lead. The Grizzlies had an answer for each of the Pacers' minor challenges in the first seven minutes of the fourth period, but went mute down the stretch.

Both teams were without their starting point guards, the Pacers' Jamaal Tinsley with a strained left hip and groin, and the Grizzlies' Jason Williams with ingrown toenails that were clipped on Monday. The Pacers are hopeful Tinsley can return for Friday's game against the Knicks. ... The Pacers led 25-17 after the first period, then totaled 29 points on 10-of-39 shooting (.256) in the second and third periods to fall behind 66-54 entering the fourth. ... Rose (29) and Bender (21) both celebrated birthdays on Wednesday). ... Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy was in attendance and received a standing ovation from the crowd of 16,445 when introduced. ... There were 32 fouls called in the first half, 16 on each time. ... In its last three games, Memphis has blown fourth-quarter leads of 11 to Chicago, nine to the Clippers and 13 to the Pacers. ... Miller has not gone without a field goal since April 5, 1995, a streak he barely avoided ending. ... The Pacers' reserves produced a season-low nine bench points. ... This was the Pacers' eighth victory after trailing by double digits. ... It was their first victory when shooting less than 40 percent.