NEW YORK (AP)—Forget age and forget slumps: Reggie Miller still has his stroke at Madison Square Garden.
Jermaine O’Neal put back a miss with three seconds left and Miller looked like his old self, scoring a season-high 31 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 95-94 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday night.
Miller, who didn’t have a 30-point game last season, scored 18 points in the first half and made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Pacers rebounded from a dreadful third quarter to hand the Knicks their fourth straight loss.
“They won’t do it, but there should be something here with Reggie’s name or number on it,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “The things that he has pulled off in the years here are the reason he is going to be a Hall of Fame player.
“Never underestimate his greatness.”
Draining 3-pointers, hounding referees and even exchanging words with Spike Lee, Miller dominated the Knicks when it counted.
“This is the greatest place to play basketball and I’ve had some great games here,” said Miller, who was his standard short, terse self after the game. “It felt good.”
Miller, who screamed at the referees when he was called for a foul with 1:45 left, hadn’t scored more than 15 points in a game this season, but once again rose to the occasion against the Knicks in the fourth quarter.
“We can’t burn him out early. I mean, he’s 40 years old,” said O’Neal, who praised the effort and said he followed the Pacers’ leader. “Reggie asked me if I had one more in me—it just happened to be the one after the shot we planned.”
Miller’s last 3-pointer gave Indiana a 93-92 lead with 49.2 seconds left. Mutombo, who had 13 points and 14 rebounds, tipped in Charlie Ward’s miss with 33.5 seconds left, giving New York a 94-93 lead.
After O’Neal put the Pacers ahead, Kurt Thomas missed an off-balance 20-footer at the final buzzer.
“That’s the best I’ve ever seen Reggie play, honestly,” said Allan Houston, who scored seven of his 16 points in the third quarter when the Knicks went on a 24-0 run.
Thomas added 14 points and 11 points, and Ward scored 14 points, including a 3-pointer with 2:15 left to cap a 7-0 run that gave the Knicks a 90-88 lead.
The Pacers hit 10 of their first 12 shots, but they were as bad in the third period as they were good in the first. After extending its lead to 63-48, Indiana committed five turnovers and missed 13 straight shots.
Miller was fouled by Houston on his second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter, and ended up in the lap of Lee, who was sitting in his regular front row seat. Lee got up and patted Miller on the back, and the two exchanged a few words before the Pacers’ guard hit a free throw to put Indiana up 88-82.
“Reggie’s game was a masterpiece,” Carlisle said. “Nights like tonightyou really feel like you were in the presence of a living legend.”
O’Neal finished with 14 points and six rebounds. … Mutombo, who played only four minutes because of a strained groin in the Knicks’ loss to New Jersey on Friday night, scored eight points in the first quarter. … Miller’s four-point play was his 16th regular season four-point play. … The Knicks 24 consecutive points was a franchise record. … Houston had scored 30 or morepoints in three of the Knicks’ previous five games.