Miller had 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Hardaway scored 14
points a day after he was signed as a free agent to lead the Pacers
past the Chicago Bulls 140-89 Friday night.
"I don't plan on expecting this every night,'' Pacers coach Isiah Thomas said of Hardaway, who played his first NBA game in more than a year. "He had 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds, three steals and eight deflections. Off the ball, he's a great team defender.''
Hardaway, 36, had been working as a television analyst after finishing last season on Denver's injured list with a broken foot. He said his effort against Chicago was deceiving.
"It didn't feel easy at all,'' he said. "But when I got in the game, I said, 'I'm out here now. It's time to start playing.'''
Miller returned to the lineup last weekend after missing five
games with an injured left foot. He scored a combined seven points
in his first two games back.
Indiana shot 62 percent and nearly handed the Bulls the most
one-sided loss in their history. They were beaten 127-74 at
Minnesota on Nov. 8, 2001.
"This is the worst, our worst effort,'' Bulls coach Bill
Cartwright said. "It's disappointing. It doesn't represent how
we've been playing. But it does reflect a carryover to how we've
been playing on the road. That's a disappointment as well.''
Eddy Curry scored 18 points for Chicago, which lost its eighth straight road game.
"I don't know if I've lost this bad, or by that much, at anything -- video games, pool, basketball, anything,'' said Jalen Rose. "Tonight's game represented a total embarrassment.''
The Pacers shot 73 percent (16-of-22) in the first quarter on their way to a 39-28 lead. They kept up the pressure in the second period, finishing the half at 64 percent and leading 74-46.
Chicago trailed only 30-25 with 1:49 left in the opening quarter
before the Pacers went on a 27-8 run over the next 7:18 to run the
margin to 57-33.<
Hardaway wasn't surprised that he shot 5-of-9 from the floor, including 4-of-8 from 3-point range.
"I can score the ball,'' he said. "That's just me. That's what
I do. I was worried about the overall part _ bringing the ball up,
making the right plays. I feel good right now, but talk to me
tomorrow. I'm sure I'll be sore.''
Indiana again played without guard Jamaal Tinsley. His
mother died Monday of cancer, and the funeral was Friday. Several
Pacers, coaches and team officials flew Thursday to New York to
attend the wake. ... The Bulls' Tyson Chandler, who had averaged a
double-double over the previous 23 games, scored just two points
and had four rebounds in 23 minutes. ... Reggie Miller played 14
minutes and became the 11th player in NBA history to total more
than 43,000 in his career.