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Miller leads Indiana



Published: Tue, April 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



He scored 28 points as the Pacers stole home-court advantage.

BOSTON (AP) -- Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers climbed out of another hole, just as they've done all season.

Now they have home-court advantage in their playoff series with the Boston Celtics.

Miller scored 28 points and the Pacers beat the Celtics 82-79 Monday night two days after he had just seven points in a 102-82 loss in the opener of their playoff series.

"After what happened in Game 1, we all knew he would come back in a big way," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said after they tied the series 1-1. "He is the guy you want on your team this time of year. We'll keep riding him as long as we can."

The best-of-7 series shifts to Indiana on Thursday night for Game 3.

Big shot

Miller plans to retire after the season, but still had a big shot left in his 39-year-old body. He sank a running jump shot with 37 seconds to go from 17 feet for the game's final points after deciding to forgo a 3-point attempt when he saw Ricky Davis running at him.

He dribbled and "got by him a couple of steps and just pulled up," Miller said.

Simple as that for a veteran who has seen just about every defensive approach in his 18 NBA seasons.

But he said he's not more emotional because this is his last season.

"Not at all. I'm locked into a great playoff series," he said. "I'm very encouraged how we played, for the most part."

That was no surprise to the Celtics.

"We knew the Pacers were going to come out with a better effort," said Paul Pierce, who led Boston with 33 points. "Reggie did a great job carrying this team."

Found shooting touch

Miller hit 9-of-18 shots after going 1-for-7 in the opener. The Pacers have needed him because of all the key players they lost for long stretches.

After the melee on Nov. 19 at Detroit when several of them went into the stands, Ron Artest was suspended for the rest of the season and the playoffs, Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games and Jermaine O'Neal for 15.

Then O'Neal missed 22 games with a sprained right shoulder before returning with just three games left.

But said he doesn't expect to make his usual offensive contributions for the rest of the playoffs.

And starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley is still sidelined after missing the last 29 regular season games with a bruised left foot.

Still, the team that made it to last year's Eastern Conference finals, where it lost to Detroit, managed to get the No. 6 seed in this year's playoffs.

"The fourth quarter was kind of how our season's gone, playing through adversity, going through ups and downs," said Jackson, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter.

"Any adversity we go through is nothing to us now."

Boston had taken its biggest lead, 75-68, on Davis' basket with 8:21 remaining. But Indiana outscored the Celtics 18-10 in the fourth quarter, which began with the Celtics leading 69-64.

Down the stretch

Antoine Walker, who had 19 points, hit a layup that put Boston ahead 78-74 with 2:41 left. Anthony Johnson's short jumper cut the lead to two and Indiana tied the game on Jackson's dunk with 1:41 to go. Then Johnson hit an easy layup and Pierce made one of two free throws, leaving Indiana ahead 80-79 with 56 seconds remaining.

Pierce had a chance to tie it, but missed a very long 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds to go.

"We were not as aggressive [as they were Saturday] and that's something we have to do offensively," Pierce said.

The Celtics also can do a better job of speeding up the tempo and not get into the Pacers' preferred halfcourt style.

"I don't care if it's not a track meet," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "We still had many chances in this game to win the game."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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