Miller, O’Neal lead Pacers over Celtics
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Reggie Miller had 33 points and Jermaine
O’Neal had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers over the
Boston Celtics, 99-76, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Game 3 of their Eastern
Conference quarterfinal series.
Miller, who also had seven rebounds, shot 10-of-16 from the floor and 11-of-12
from the free throw line, helping the Pacers take a two games to one lead over
the Celtics in this best-of-seven set. Game 4 is scheduled for Saturday, again
O’Neal had his best game of the postseason thus far, hitting 6-of-13 shots and
going 9-of-13 from the free throw line. He and Miller led the Pacers during
the second quarter, in which Indiana outscored Boston 31-19.
“Jermaine got us off to a good start,” said Miller. “It’s not on us to put the
pressure on him. I tried to be aggressive.”
Paul Pierce had 19 points for the Celtics, who have yet to win since capturing
Game 1. Gary Payton added 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists for
Boston, which held only two leads in this game and both came early.
“We got our tail kicked,” said Boston head coach Doc Rivers. “The team we
played was more physical. They competed harder and got all the loose balls.
“If we try to think our way through this series we are not going to do to
well,” added Rivers. “We do have the advantage of youth and athleticism and we
have to take advantage of that.”
Trailing 11-10 early in the first quarter, Indiana scored seven of the next
nine points to take a 17-13 lead. Miller’s three-pointer gave the Pacers a
four-point cushion with 4:47 remaining and the club went into the second with
a 24-19 advantage.
Indiana then grabbed control in the second. Ahead 26-23 the Pacers went on an
18-5 run to go ahead by double digits. O’Neal had eight points during the
burst, ending it with a bucket at the 4:24 mark for a 44-28 cushion.
Later, the Pacers scored nine of the final 14 points of the half to go into
the locker room with a 55-37 advantage. Miller and O’Neal combined to score 18
of the club’s 31 second-quarter points to give the Pacers a comfortable lead.
In the third, Boston rallied to cut the deficit to 67-59 on a Ricky Davis
basket with 2:10 remaining, capping a 6-0 burst.
That, however, would be as close as the Celtics would get the rest of the way.
Indiana scored the final four points of the third to go into the fourth with a
Miller took over in the fourth, scoring seven straight points during a 12-0
run that extended the Pacers’ lead to 83-62. Stephen Jackson’s basket with
6:20 remaining capped the burst and Indiana cruised to the finish.
“I hate that guy,” Rivers jokingly said of Miller. “That guy’s great. We have
to come up with a better answer than what we’ve had.”
Things got heated in the final stages. With 4:06 remaining Antoine Walker and
O’Neal got into an altercation that resulted in the ejection of Walker and
with O’Neal receiving a technical.
Walker ended with 14 points and nine rebounds for Boston, which shot just 40
percent from the field.
Jackson ended with 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists for the Pacers,
who hit a blistering 47 percent of their field goals.
Boston has dropped three straight and six of its last nine Game 3s in the
postseason…The Celtics were just 18-23 on the road in the regular season,
losing their only trip to Indiana…Dale Davis had nine points for the
Pacers…Anthony Johnson had four points and eight assists for
Indiana…Boston’s starting center Raef LaFrentz had only three points and
starting guard Tony Allen was held scoreless.