INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Reggie Miller is having the most fun of his
18-year NBA career.
Miller scored 18 points Friday night to lead the Pacers to their
season-high sixth straight win, 93-83 over the Washington Wizards.
"This is probably the funnest I've had," said the 39-year-old
Miller, who will retire after this season. "This team is showing
great signs of life right now."
Indiana moved into a tie with Washington for fifth place in the
Eastern Conference. Both teams are two games behind fourth-place
Chicago, which beat New York on Friday.
During their current winning streak, the Pacers have four
victories over three Eastern Conference teams -- two against
Washington, and one each against Miami and Cleveland -- that are
still in playoff picture.
"All year we've found ways to kind of hang around, but now
we're finding ways to win games against playoff-caliber teams,"
Stephen Jackson had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Anthony
Johnson added 14 points for the Pacers, who have won seven of their
last eight games at home.
"I think our confidence is sky-high," Johnson said. "Now when
we go out there, we expect not only to win, but to dominate and win
Larry Hughes had 24 points and nine rebounds, and Kwame Brown
scored 16 points for the Wizards, who lost their fourth straight
"God works in mysterious ways," said Gilbert Arenas, who
finished with 14 points. "He's had us at (the fourth-seed) all
year, but now he's knocked us back a little bit, maybe trying to
see what we're made of."
The Pacers and Wizards were tied at 44-all at halftime, before
Indiana began to pull away in the third quarter with the help of
Miller's shooting and passing. The veteran guard had assists on
consecutive baskets by Jeff Foster and Eddie Gill, then hit a
runner to give the Pacers a 65-54 lead.
Washington responded with five straight points to cut the
deficit to 65-59 with 37 seconds left, but Gill stopped the rally
with two free throws to end the third.
The closest the Wizards got in the fourth quarter was 71-66 with
9:40 left. The Pacers then went on a 10-2 run, started by James
Jones' 3-pointer, to open an 81-68 lead with under seven minutes
"The key for us is to stay hungry," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle
said. "We've got to make sure winning doesn't soften us up."
The Pacers led 29-21 after the first quarter on Jones' 3-pointer
to close out the period.
Washington scored nine of the first 10 points of the second
quarter to tie the score at 30. The Pacers regained the lead and
stretched it to 40-34 with 3:35 left, before the Wizards hit four
straight free throws to tie it at 44-all at the break.
"We lost our composure when the game got physical," Wizards
coach Eddie Jordan said. "They hit us with hard screens and bodied
up on us and we just didn't respond."
Miller missed his first free-throw attempt to snap his
streak of 60 in a row. Miller set the Indiana franchise record of
61 straight earlier this season. ... Antawn Jamison missed the game
with tendinitis in his right knee. ... Indiana and Washington split
the season series 2-2. ... The Wizards begin a five-game home
stretch Saturday against Philadelphia. ... The Pacers are 4-0 in