INDIANAPOLIS, April 26 (Ticker) -- Reggie Miller
likely never had an
easier shot to win a game and likely never missed so badly.
Miller made a clutch 3-pointer in the final minute but missed a
wide-open jumper at the buzzer as the New Jersey Nets edged the
Indiana Pacers, 85-84 to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round
Miller has built a career out of making huge shots, especially
in the playoffs, where defense is often tighter and scoring
chances are heavily contested. But he could not give Indiana
the series lead with what may have been the most wide-open
jumper of his career.
Indiana had possession with less than a second remaining and
inbounded to Miller, who was freed when Jason Kidd
got caught on
a screen by Jermaine O'Neal
Kerry Kittles had missed nine of 10 shots prior to his game-winning three.|
Miller caught the ball just inside the 3-point line and was five
feet from any defender but his shot did not even hit the rim.
"When I didn't see Jason, I wish I would've taken more time,"
Miller said. "But knowing there was only eight-tenths of a
second left, you tend to rush things. I live for these moments,
these opportunities in the playoffs."
"He got a good look, he missed a shot," Indiana coach Isiah
Thomas said. "The playoffs are about pressure. It's not
something to be avoided. It comes with the territory."
Many of the Nets, who do not have the postseason experience
Miller does, hardly could stand the drama of the final play.
"I did not look at it, I did not want to see what would happen,"
Nets forward Kenyon Martin
said. "He's been making that shot
his whole career so you expect it to be made tonight."
"I thought when Reggie caught the ball at the end we were in
trouble," Nets coach Byron Scott said. "I know Reggie lives for
that moment and my heart stopped a few beats."
Miller gave the Pacers their last lead, 83-82 when he beat the
shot clock with a long 3-pointer with 34 seconds to go.
Kidd missed a jumper on New Jersey's next possession, but Keith
grabbed the offensive rebound . Kerry Kittles
with a wide-open 3-pointer and buried the shot to give the Nets
an 85-83 edge with 23 seconds left.
"There was no hesitation," Kittles said. "I knew I was wide open
and I knew once Jason swung it over I could tee it up. I knew
it was going in as soon as I released it. It's big for my
teammates, it was a big shot for us."
The Pacers went to O'Neal, who had his shot blocked by Aaron
before regaining possession and getting fouled. He
made the first free throw but missed the second and Williams
pulled down the rebound.
Williams was fouled with eight-tenths of a second remaining and
missed both free throws. He did not hit the rim on his second
attempt, allowing the Pacers to inbounds the ball at halfcourt
for the final shot.
"I tried to make the first and miss the second, but it didn't
work out," Williams said. "I should've tried to make it, I
probable would've missed it anyway."
Kidd had 24 points and 11 assists and Van Horn had 14 points and
12 rebounds for the top-seeded Nets, who snapped a five-game
road losing streak in the playoffs.
Martin and O'Neal were engaged in a war of words throughout the
week but the New Jersey forward clearly won the head-to-head
Martin had 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting while O'Neal made just
5-of-17 shots and scored 12 points.
"We aren't going to get caught up in word games," Kidd said. "We
stayed together, came out and won a big game on the road. I
believe in my teammates."
Miller scored 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting and Ron Artest
scored just four points on 1-of-11 shooting in Game Two, had 11
Indiana's Ron Mercer
scored 10 points and fellow reserve Jeff
added seven and 12 rebounds, both career playoff highs.
The Nets can win their first playoff series with a victory in
Tuesday's Game Four.
"We do not have anything to prove to anyone," Martin said. "We
know we're a good team, our goal is now to finish it out on
Tuesday. We don't want to go back to Jersey. It would be nice
if Game Four were there, but it's not."
"We are closer to our goal," Scott said. "No we have home-court
advantage, but the Pacers are a good team, this is going to be
no easy task."
Kidd scored 10 points in the first seven minutes as the Nets
jumped out to a 15-6 lead. New Jersey went into halftime with a
44-37 advantage but was not prepared for Indiana in the third
Miller scored 10 points as the Pacers made 12-of-20 shots in the
period. The Nets had a nine-point lead less than a minute into
the quarter but were outscored 23-8 over the next eight
"They came out with more energy and we knew they would," Martin
said. "But we kept them in our distance and we went to the
fourth quarter within arm's reach. We'll take that all the
O'Neal's jumper gave Indiana its largest lead, 63-56 with 3:22
to go, but Kidd and Martin made layups before Lucious Harris
tied it with a jumper.
The teams were tied four times and exchanged the lead three
times before Miller's 3-pointer gave the Pacers their final