Indiana shoots 27.5 percent in Game 2 loss

Updated: May 26, 2004, 12:57 AM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Jermaine O'Neal believes there's a 50-50 chance of Indiana's shots going in. The way the Pacers have shot over the last three playoff games, the odds aren't nearly that good.

The Pacers shot just 27.5 percent in a 72-67 loss to the Detroit Pistons in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night.

"Right now, it's not going in for us," O'Neal said.

The series is tied at 1-1 and shifts to Detroit for Game 3 on Wednesday.

It was the third straight game that Indiana shot less than 34 percent from the field. The Pacers won the previous two, but on Monday, it finally caught up with them.

Tayshaun Prince
APMiller opted for a layup instead of a dunk, enabling Prince to make a spectacular block.

"Shooting 27 percent is nothing to write home about," Pacers center Jeff Foster said. "They hit shots down the stretch, we didn't."

The Pacers shot 32 percent in Game 6 of their second round series when they eliminated the Miami Heat, and followed that with 33.7 percent in their Game 1 win over the Pistons on Saturday.

On Monday, however, the Pacers weren't as lucky.

They collapsed in the second half under Detroit's stifling defense.

The Pacers shot just 3-for-22 in the fourth quarter and went the final 3:31 without a field goal as the Pistons made good on Rasheed Wallace's guarantee that Detroit would win the game.

"They were much more aggressive defensively than they were in Game 1," Pacers guard Reggie Miller said.

The Pistons blocked 19 shots and refused to let Jermaine O'Neal catch the ball in the low post in the second half. Wallace led the way with five blocks and Tayshaun Prince had four, none bigger than one on Miller late in the game.

With Detroit leading 69-67, Indiana point guard Jamaal Tinsley stole the ball and hit Miller down court for what appeared to be a wide open, game-tying layup.

Prince had other ideas.

He raced down the floor and blocked Miller's layup attempt. Richard Hamilton corralled the loose ball and hit two free throws, giving Detroit a four-point lead that was too big for the Pacers to overcome.

"I knew it," Hamilton said of the block. "I said, 'Reggie better dunk it, because if you don't dunk it, Tay is going to get that."

Miller agreed with Hamilton.

"I saw him in my rearview mirror," Miller said. "In hindsight, I probably should have dunked it."

Nothing was easy for the Pacers, especially as the Pistons rallied from a six-point halftime deficit which, in this incredibly defensive game, seemed almost insurmountable.

But the Pistons put the clamps on O'Neal, holding him scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting in the second half after he had 16 points in the first.

"I just thought our defense, especially the interior, was unbelievable," Pistons coach Larry Brown said. "Rasheed, you can't guard better than he guarded in the second half."

O'Neal disagreed, saying he simply missed a lot of open jump shots.

"I got the shots, but I have to knock them down," said O'Neal, who finished 6-for-18 after going 7-for-20 in Game 1. "I'm just struggling."

So is Ron Artest.

The Pacers other All-Star had another miserable night, shooting 5-for-21 and scoring 13 points. In two games against Detroit, Artest shot 11-for-44.

Afterward, Artest took the blame for the loss, saying that he has to do a better job of finishing near the basket.

O'Neal disagreed.

"We win as a team, we lose as a team," O'Neal said.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press