Detroit wins series 4-2 (Game 3 of 6)

Detroit wins series 4-2

Game 1: Monday, May 9th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 11th
Game 3: Friday, May 13th
Game 4: Sunday, May 15th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 17th
Game 6: Thursday, May 19th

Pistons 74

(54-28, 22-19 away)

Pacers 79

(44-38, 25-16 home)

6:00 PM ET, May 13, 2005

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

1 2 3 4 T
DET 11 17 17 2974
IND 17 25 16 2179

Top Performers

Det: C. Billups 23 Pts, 3 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Ind: J. Tinsley 16 Pts, 2 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

Pacers avoid collapse, go up 2-1 on Pistons

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Reggie Miller is still pushing opponents around.

With a sellout crowd chanting his name, the 39-year-old delivered another clutch playoff moment Friday night. He drew two fouls, made four free throws and hit a key jumper in the final 81 seconds to rally the Indiana Pacers past Detroit 79-74 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Consecutive Playoff Games Scoring Under 100 Points*
Team Strk Seasons
Heat 38 '97-04
Knicks 31 '99-present
Pacers 23 '04-present
*Since shot clock era

The Pacers now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday at Indianapolis.

It was an atypical night for Miller until the end.

He shot just 3-of-11 from the field, including a dismal 0-of-7 from 3-point range, and even missed a free throw in the fourth quarter. But when the Pacers needed him most, the five-time All-Star who is retiring after the season looked like anything but a fading star.

With the Pacers trailing 72-71 and commissioner David Stern watching from near midcourt, Miller drew the sixth foul on Richard Hamilton with 1:21 left and sank two free throws to wipe out Detroit's 72-71 lead. On the Pacers' next possession, Miller drew a foul on Lindsey Hunter, then hit two more free throws to make it 75-72.

And when Detroit needed a stop to have a chance at a potentially tying 3-pointer, Hunter fell down -- or perhaps was pushed -- and Miller hit a 21-foot jumper to make it 79-74.

"Lindsey, who is an unbelievable defender, was crowding me, so I tried to use my body against him and tried to create some space, which I did," Miller said of his shot that sealed the victory.

Miller led the Pacers with 17 points, Jamaal Tinsley added 16 and Jeff Foster had 12 rebounds.

Detroit, the defending NBA champion, was upset with the calls and the non-calls.

"It was an unbelievable shot he hit," coach Larry Brown said. "But how could he get so open? ... It's a shame that in the final situation they leave it up to other people to decide the game."

Brown seemed to infer that Miller was using his trademark push-off to draw fouls and get free, and Hunter declined to comment for fear of a fine.

Miller conceded there was pushing and shoving by both teams, but acknowledged it was part of the tiresome complaints he hears every year come playoff time.

"It's common," Miller said. "It's always something I'm doing."

Detroit, which was led by Chauncey Billups with 23 points, didn't challenge until late. The Pacers neutralized defensive player of the year Ben Wallace inside and took advantage of Richard Hamilton's sore right calf to beat the Pistons for the second straight time.

Perhaps most important for the Pacers was that they actually won in their own building, where they had lost four of their last five postseason games -- including two straight to Detroit in last year's Eastern Conference finals.

After spending more than a week on the road with trips to Boston and Detroit, the Pacers shot 36.1 percent from the field. Detroit had just a 42-40 rebounding advantage and Wallace, who controlled Game 1, finished with seven points and 14 rebounds.

The win changed the dynamic of a series in which the road team had won five of the previous six meetings this season -- something the Pistons intend to change back Sunday.

"We're definitely going back to Detroit with this thing 2-2, no question about it," said Detroit's Rasheed Wallace, who missed two key 3-pointers in the last minute.

Brown used only seven players, and Hamilton, Detroit's leading scorer, had a miserable start. He was 1-of-7 from the field with three turnovers in the first quarter and finished with 16 points before fouling out with 1:21 left.

Although the Pistons trailed by double digits for most of the second and third quarters, Detroit's late push was nearly enough to win it.

Indiana led 58-45 entering the fourth quarter, but the Pistons quickly cut the margin to 10. After the Pacers rebuilt a 67-55 lead, Detroit got back-to-back three-point plays from Hamilton and Billups, then used a 9-2 run to take a 72-71 lead on Billups' free throws with 2:09 left.

Then it was Miller time.

He hit all four free throws, then the 21-footer with 10.7 seconds left to seal the win.

"I can't really be surprised because I've seen him do it so many times," Pacers All-Star Jermaine O'Neal said. "I've been watching him do it all my life. That's what makes him a crunch time player."

Game notes

Foster recorded his fourth straight game with double-digits in rebounds. ... It was the Pacers' first home win over the Pistons this season. ... After scoring 21 points in Game 1, Ben Wallace has a total of 10 points in the last two games. ... The Pistons were just 3-of-16 from 3-point range. ... Indiana came into the game with the best defense in the playoffs, allowing a league-low 88.1 points per game.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 74 79
FGM-FGA 24-65 (.369) 26-72 (.361)
3PM-3PA 3-16 (.188) 4-17 (.235)
FTM-FTA 23-28 (.821) 23-27 (.852)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-42 10-40
Assists 17 15
Turnovers 18 14
Steals 7 8
Blocks 7 3
Fast Break Points 13 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (1/0) 25 (0/0)
Largest Lead 2 18

Top Performers

Chauncey Billups Billups
Points: 23
Reb: 3
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Jamaal Tinsley Tinsley
Points: 16
Reb: 2
Ast: 6
Stl: 1
Blk: 0