NEW YORK (AP) -- It was a sight Knicks fans probably never
imagined: Reggie Miller crossing the court after a poor shooting
night to embrace die-hard New York fan Spike Lee.
But, beneath all the feel-good sentiment, was a very familiar
result for the Knicks -- a loss to Miller's Pacers.
Stephen Jackson celebrated his birthday by scoring 33 points and
Indiana beat New York 97-79 Tuesday night despite a poor shooting
night from Miller in his final appearance at Madison Square Garden.
Miller went just 3-for-15 from the floor and finished with 13
points. Still, the presence of one of the Knicks' great foes drew
chants of "Reg-gie, Reg-gie" from the crowd as the game drew to a
close. Before the game, some fans held up signs reading: "Reggie
Thanks for the Memories," "Reggie Please Don't Retire" and "We
"It's always been a love-hate relationship" Miller said. "I
didn't know what kind of reception I was going to get here tonight.
I appreciate all the kind words and all the signs. It means a
Miller, who plans to retire after this season, has long
tormented the Knicks and their fans -- most notably film director
Lee -- with his clutch play in crucial games at the Garden.
"Ask any ballplayer, this is the one place where you want to
succeed," Miller said.
As the clock wound down in the final two minutes, fans began to
chant for Miller. When the game ended, Miller raised his hand to
acknowledge the crowd, walked across the court and embraced Lee,
who had watched the game from his usual courtside seat.
"A lot of things have been said between Spike and myself but
out of anyone in this building that I have so much respect for it's
Spike," Miller said. "I've always said there needs to be more
Spike Lees in every building."
Said Indiana coach Rick Carlisle: "Spike drove Reggie to real
heights of greatness. It was cool to get those guys together."
Stephon Marbury had 19 points to lead the Knicks, who have lost
seven in a row and saw their slim playoff hopes get even more
Tim Thomas had 13 for New York, while Kurt Thomas had 12 points
and 12 rebounds. Crawford added 10 points.
Miller was the first Pacer announced in the pregame introduction
and was greeted with a loud mixture of boos and cheers.
After coming out for good earlier in the fourth quarter, several
fans yelled "thank you" to Miller during a timeout with 2:33
left. He nodded his head and raised his hand in acknowledgment.
After the game, he said he thought it was the last time he would be
inside the Garden for any reason.
"He's been an evil enemy," Tim Thomas said. "But at the same
time, you've got to love him. He just comes in and does his job.
I'm pretty sure if he played here, the fans would love him."
New York fans are all too familiar with Miller's heroics for the
Pacers. In the Eastern Conference finals in 1994, he scored 25 of
his 39 points in the fourth quarter -- trading verbal barbs with Lee
along the way -- to lead the Pacers to a 93-86 win and force a
seventh game, which the Knicks won.
The following year, Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in
the final moments of a 107-105 win in Game 1 of the Eastern
Conference semifinals at the Garden. Miller's outburst included two
3-pointers, a steal, a rebound and two free throws.
And it's why Miller knows not everyone in the Garden was rooting
for him, even when the fans were chanting his name.
"There were a few (stinks) in there, too," he said.
Indiana guards Fred Jones (lower back spasms) and Jamaal
Tinsley (bruised left foot) did not dress. ... Knicks coach Herb
Williams, a longtime player for New York, was asked before the game
what remembrances he had of Miller's play against the Knicks. "No
memories," he said with a smile. "I'm blank."