Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/23

Game 1: Saturday, November 23rd
Game 2: Saturday, January 18th
Game 3: Monday, January 20th
Game 4: Friday, April 4th

Pistons 86

(26-13, 12-9 away)

Pacers 88

(29-11, 18-1 home)

    Coverage: FSMW

    7:00 PM ET, January 18, 2003

    Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

    1 2 3 4 T
    DET 16 27 22 2186
    IND 26 14 28 2088

    Top Performers

    Det: C. Billups 21 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast

    Ind: B. Miller 19 Pts, 15 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    O'Neal's jumper at buzzer thwarts Pistons' comeback

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal made the shot, the buzzer sounded and the celebration began.

    Jermaine O'Neal

    Game over? Not so fast.

    Officials reviewed the replay of O'Neal's shot for about 15 minutes before ruling it was good, giving the Pacers an 88-86 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.

    O'Neal, who finished with 17 points, knew what they would find.

    "When it left my hand, I knew it was good,'' O'Neal said.

    The NBA added instant replay this year, permitting officials to review plays in the final few seconds of any quarter. Officials Joe DeRosa, Jess Kersey and Courtney Kirkland studied the replay, talked with the coaches and then headed to midcourt for more discussion before making their decision.

    "It was a split-second situation. It looked to me like the ball was still in his hands,'' Pistons coach Rick Carlisle said. "I disagree with the decision, but I respect the call.''

    The Pacers inbounded the ball with 24.1 seconds left. Indiana's Erick Strickland drove toward the basket, ran into defensive pressure and kicked it out to O'Neal. He set himself, made the 19-footer and was quickly mobbed by his teammates. Television replays seemed to indicate the ball left O'Neal's hands with four-tenths of a second left.

    Detroit was questioning whether it was a shot-clock violation, DeRosa said.

    "Twenty-four seconds had not expired off the game clock before the ball was released from his hands,'' he said. "So, therefore, the basket was good and it was not a shot-clock violation. They scored the basket and the game was over.''

    O'Neal raised his hands in triumph when the decision was announced to the crowd.

    Said Detroit's Cliff Robinson: "It was a shot-clock violation. All you have to do is look at the tape and see, it's still in his hands.''

    Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said he hoped Detroit appreciated how carefully the officials handled the situation.

    "I know if I was on the other end, I would appreciate it if the officials really huddled and talked about it as opposed to just saying, 'You lost,''' he said.

    The winning shot was O'Neal's only field goal of the second half. He had scored 15 points in the first half and was 0-for-5 in the second before his final shot.

    "It was kind of a bizarre game for me,'' O'Neal said.

    Reggie Miller scored 21 points, Brad Miller had 19 points and 15 rebounds and Ron Artest also had 19 points for the Pacers.

    It was a wild ending to a game the Pacers seemingly had won when they led 86-77 with just over two minutes left.

    That lead was wiped out when Detroit's Jon Barry, Robinson and Chauncey Billups all hit 3-pointers, tying the score at 86 with 51.2 seconds left.

    "We felt like we could get back in the game and we did by knocking down those 3s,'' Barry said. "We just came up short.''

    O'Neal's shot made up for his mishandling of the ball on Indiana's previous possession. He tried to spin around Robinson on the right block but lost control of the ball for a turnover.

    "I almost cost my team the game, but fortunately for myself I hit the shot to get a win for my team,'' O'Neal said.

    Billups, who led the Pistons with 21 points, then missed a running jumper over Strickland.

    The Pacers increased their lead over Detroit in the Central Division to 2.5 games and won their 11th straight at home. The Pacers are 18-1 at Conseco Fieldhouse and haven't lost there since Nov. 23 to the Pistons.

    Barry and Robinson each scored 12 points.

    It was a tough, physical game with players banging in the paint, arguing with officials and neither team being able to open much of a lead through three quarters.

    Then the Pacers started the fourth on a 10-2 run to lead 78-67.

    Chucky Atkins hit a 3 with 4:42 left as the Pistons pulled to 80-75, only to allow the Pacers to score six of the next eight points.

    Game notes

    The Pacers are at Detroit on Monday. ... Indiana placed guard Jamison Brewer on the injured list and activated forward Austin Croshere. Croshere injured a rib muscle on Jan. 6. Brewer has a strained right groin. ... Reggie Miller played 34 minutes, making him the 12th player in NBA history to play more than 42,000 minutes in his career. He is seven points away from becoming the 18th player in league history to score 28,000 points.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 86 88
    FGM-FGA 33-87 (.379) 32-71 (.451)
    3PM-3PA 8-22 (.364) 5-10 (.500)
    FTM-FTA 12-17 (.706) 19-24 (.792)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 16-48 7-41
    Assists 18 21
    Turnovers 9 13
    Steals 5 6
    Blocks 5 8
    Fast Break Points 4 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 25 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Chauncey Billups Billups
    Points: 21
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Brad Miller Miller
    Points: 19
    Reb: 15
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2