<
>

Pacers tie playoff series with Celtics at 1-1

BOSTON (AP) -- Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers climbed out
of another hole, just as they've done all season.

Now they have home-court advantage in their playoff series with
the Boston Celtics.

Miller scored 28 points and the Pacers beat the Celtics 82-79
Monday night two days after he had just seven points in a 102-82
loss in the opener of their playoff series.

"After what happened in Game 1, we all knew he would come back
in a big way," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said after they tied the
series 1-1. "He is the guy you want on your team this time of
year. We'll keep riding him as long as we can."

The best-of-seven series shifts to Indiana on Thursday night for
Game 3.

Miller plans to retire after the season, but still had a big
shot left in his 39-year-old body. He sank a running jump shot with
37 seconds to go from 17 feet for the game's final points after
deciding to forgo a 3-point attempt when he saw Ricky Davis running
at him.

He dribbled and "got by him a couple of steps and just pulled
up," Miller said.

Simple as that for a veteran who has seen just about every
defensive approach in his 18 NBA seasons.

But he said he's not more emotional because this is his last
season.

"Not at all. I'm locked into a great playoff series," he said.
"I'm very encouraged how we played, for the most part."

That was no surprise to the Celtics.

"We knew the Pacers were going to come out with a better
effort," said Paul Pierce, who led Boston with 33 points. "Reggie
did a great job carrying this team."

Miller hit 9-of-18 shots after going 1-for-7 in the opener. The
Pacers have needed him because of all the key players they lost for
long stretches.

After the melee on Nov. 19 at Detroit when several of them went
into the stands, Ron Artest was suspended for the rest of the
season and the playoffs, Stephen Jackson was suspended for 30 games
and Jermaine O'Neal for 15.

Then O'Neal missed 22 games with a sprained right shoulder
before returning with just three games left. But said he doesn't
expect to make his usual offensive contributions for the rest of
the playoffs.

And starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley is still sidelined after
missing the last 29 regular-season games with a bruised left foot.

Still, the team that made it to last year's Eastern Conference
finals, where it lost to Detroit, managed to get the No. 6 seed in
this year's playoffs.

"The fourth quarter was kind of how our season's gone, playing
through adversity, going through ups and downs," said Jackson, who
scored 16 of his 20 points in the first quarter. "Any adversity we
go through is nothing to us now."

Boston had taken its biggest lead, 75-68, on Davis' basket with
8:21 remaining. But Indiana outscored the Celtics 18-10 in the
fourth quarter, which began with the Celtics leading 69-64.

Antoine Walker, who had 19 points, hit a layup that put Boston
ahead 78-74 with 2:41 left. Anthony Johnson's short jumper cut the
lead to two and Indiana tied the game on Jackson's dunk with 1:41
to go. Then Johnson hit an easy layup and Pierce made one of two
free throws, leaving Indiana ahead 80-79 with 56 seconds remaining.

Pierce had a chance to tie it, but missed a very long 3-pointer
with 3.2 seconds to go.

"We were not as aggressive (as they were Saturday) and that's
something we have to do offensively," Pierce said.

The Celtics also can do a better job of speeding up the tempo
and not get into the Pacers' preferred halfcourt style.

"I don't care if it's not a track meet," Boston coach Doc
Rivers said. "We still had many chances in this game to win the
game."

But the Celtics made only 39 percent of their shots and went
just 3-for-13 on 3-pointers. They missed their last four shots of
the game, but were as concerned about their defense, particularly
down the stretch.

"We gave up too many easy baskets," Pierce said. "They got a
couple dunks, couple layups and that can't happen in the
playoffs."

It did and now the Pacers prepare for Game 3 after taking
home-court advantage from the Celtics, who were 27-14 in Boston
this season.

"The question I've been getting the last two days is whether
our team has anything left in the tank" after all the adversity of
the season, Carlisle said. "There's no way this team is going to
go quietly."

Game notes
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft attended the game.
... Raef LaFrentz scored just three points after leading Boston in
Game 1 with 21 points and making all five of his 3-point attempts.
... The Pacers are 0-13 in series in which they lose the opener.