“This was a bona fide big game,” Carlisle said.
That has meant one thing in Indiana for the past 17 years—it’s Miller Time. Friday night was no different.
Reggie Miller delivered a clutch performance for the second straight game, scoring 28 points and hitting seven 3-pointers to lead the Pacers to an 89-79 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.
“He’s sending a not-so-thinly veiled message that the notion he’s getting a little old is premature,” Carlisle said.
Jermaine O’Neal overcame foul trouble and scored 12 of his 20 points in the final quarter, when the Pacers took control.
The Pacers started the final period with a 14-4 run to take a 77-68 lead with 5:26 to play.
O’Neal scored eight points during the run, including a pretty jump hook and another short jumper that capped the spurt. O’Neal also had 10 rebounds and five blocks.
“Jermaine was really a monster in the fourth quarter,” Carlisle said. “We played the post through him. He played great.”
Fittingly, it was Miller who sealed the victory. He nailed a 3-pointer with 48.5 seconds left to give the Pacers an 84-73 lead.
The shot brought the near-sellout crowd to its feet, chanting “Reggie! Reggie!”
Then, for good measure, he knocked down a 28-foot 3 to cap the scoring.
“I’m just getting my legs back underneath me,” Miller said. “The confidence is there and Rick is running more plays for me.”
Tim Duncan led San Antonio with 16 points and nine rebounds, but the Spurs didn’t have an answer for O’Neal in the fourth quarter and lost for the fourth time in five games.
Miller waited until the fourth quarter of Wednesday night’s win over Atlanta to get involved, scoring all 13 of his points to lift the Pacers over the Hawks.
He didn’t wait nearly as long Friday. He hit two 3-pointers in the first and scored eight points as the Pacers jumped out to a 25-17 lead.
Miller then scored 12 in the third, including three 3-pointers, to bring the Pacers back from a 46-39 deficit to tie it at 63 going into the fourth.
“When he feels it, he knows he feels it and he just sticks it to you,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “And he did it tonight, it was great to see. He was great.”
In a physical game featuring two of the top three defensive teams in the league, the Pacers’ tough front line forced two-time MVP Duncan into 4-of-18 shooting.
“The Pacers’ defense was very good tonight,” Duncan said. “I thought Jeff (Foster) did a good job tonight, he had a hand in my face and contested every shot. He was there every time.”
Both teams looked as though they were going to run away with the game at different points in the first half.
The Pacers jumped out early, outscoring the Spurs 21-6 in the first six minutes.
The slow first and third-quarter starts have become a recurring theme for San Antonio during its recent slide.
“Maybe I need new speeches or something,” Popovich quipped. “The lack of mental toughness and leadership out on the court tonight was not very impressive. It was the most disappointing loss of the season.”
San Antonio slowly crept back into it, thanks to a huge advantage at the free throw line. The Spurs made 12 of 16 foul shots in the second quarter, while the Pacers made just one free throw.
The teams were playing for the second time in less than a week.
Hedo Turkoglu’s 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining forced overtime Saturday night, and the Spurs won 89-88 at home.
Miller made sure the result was different this time. The 38-year-old guard added five rebounds, five assists and three steals in a throwback performance.
One of the game’s great pressure shooters, Miller answered the call one more time, going 10-of-15 from the floor, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range.
“Reggie Miller came up monstrous again,” Carlisle said. “His shot-makingcombined with our overall effort in the second half was the difference.”
Pacers F Al Harrington returned to the lineup after missing one game with a bruised right knee. … Pacers associate head coach Mike Brown served on the Spurs’ staff during last year’s championship run. … Early in the first quarter, Indiana’s Ron Artest crashed into a cameraman while going for a loose ball and inadvertently bloodied the cameraman’s nose. … Artest scored seven points, snapping his string of five straight 20-point games. … O’Neal had hisEastern Conference-leading 25th double-double.