PHILADELPHIA, April 21 (AP)
-- Reggie Miller
wasn't thinking about a tie. He was going for a win all the way.
In his latest heroic postseason moment, Miller nailed a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left to lift the Indiana Pacers to a 79-78 comeback victory over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Saturday.
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Miller, who had missed 16 of his first 20 shots, came around a screen and took a pass from Jalen Rose
before launching a 3-pointer from 25 feet that rattled in.
"On the road I always go for 3," said Miller, whose career highlights include several clutch 3-pointers at the end of games -- especially in the playoffs.
"I knew it was coming. You knew it was coming. The crowd knew it was coming."
The Sixers had a final chance, but Allen Iverson
lost his dribble with Miller closely guarding him and couldn't get a shot off as time expired.
"We got to a point where we felt we had these guys beat," Iverson said. "We got tight. To get a big lead like that and lose it at home is ridiculous."
Indiana, the defending Eastern Conference champions and prohibitive underdogs against Philadelphia, lead the best-of-five series 1-0. Game 2 is Tuesday night at the First Union Center.
Miller had 17 points and Jermaine O'Neal
added 12 points and a career-high 20 rebounds for Indiana, which rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit. Travis Best
had 16 points and 10 assists.
"We let the world know, we let them know, we can beat them on their own court," O'Neal said.
Iverson, who won his second scoring title in three years by averaging 31.1 points per game, had just 16 points. Aaron McKie
added 18 and Dikembe Mutombo
had 12 points and 22 rebounds.
Philadelphia, the top team in the East, is seeking to avenge two straight playoff defeats to Indiana.
"We gave them too many shots and I don't think we went inside enough," Mutombo said. "We had a lot of opportunities, but we didn't take advantage of them. Their big men were in foul trouble and we didn't take advantage of that either. I'm not happy at all at the way we lost this game."
The Pacers took their first lead, 73-72, since the opening minutes on a jumper by Best midway through the fourth. After Iverson answered with a jumper, Miller hit a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a 76-74 lead with 3:21 left.
Mutombo tied it at 76 on a pair of free throws with two minutes left. After Rose missed a jumper, Snow scored on a driving layup to make it 78-76.
Indiana missed four shots, including three 3-pointers, on its ensuing possession, but McKie missed an off-balance driving layup and O'Neal got the rebound with 11.7 seconds left.
Miller then drilled his third 3-pointer of the game to notch the upset.
"The situation called for big-time players to step up," Rose said. "I've seen him hit that shot numerous times."
Said Miller, "Shooters shoot. I understood I was having an off day."
Iverson shot just 7-of-19 and wasn't too thrilled about going to the bench after committing his fourth foul with 7:40 left in the third. He stared at Sixers coach Larry Brown and didn't join a team huddle during an ensuing timeout.
Iverson returned less than three minutes later, made a driving layup and hit a short jumper to give the Sixers a 65-54 lead late in the third after Indiana had cut its deficit to single digits for the first time since the first quarter.
"We got real tentative and they made big plays," Brown said. "We didn't make many shots in the second half and we made some critical mistakes. We took a shot too soon and we have to be a lot smarter."
Philadelphia used a 12-2 run -- none of the points from Iverson -- to open its first double-digit lead of the game, 18-8, with 2:39 left in the first.
Indiana missed its first eight shots before Rose hit a short jumper 3:20 into the game.
Miller made just one of his first 10 shots and was 2-for-12 in the first half. The Pacers were 15-for-51 in the first half.
"With a guy like that, you never worry about what he's done early," Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said.
Neither Iverson nor Miller scored until Miller made a driving layup with 2:05 left in the first. Iverson then scored on a driving finger roll with 1:38 left. He had as many assists -- four -- as shots in the first.
Miller shot just 3-for-14 in his last game in Philadelphia on April 1. ... O'Neal got a technical foul for taunting after a slam dunk early in the second quarter. ... Iverson hit a layup with 1:38 left in the first and the clock didn't restart until Austin Croshere
made a layup on the ensuing possession.