NEW YORK (AP)—Stephen Jackson celebrated his birthday by scoring 33 points and the Indiana Pacers beat the New York Knicks 97-79 Tuesday night despite a poor shooting night from Reggie Miller in his final appearance at Madison Square Garden.
Miller, who plans to retire after this season, has long tormented the Knicks and their fans—most notably film director Spike Lee—with his clutch play in crucial games at the Garden. On Tuesday, however, he went just 3-for-15 from the floor and finished with 13 points.
As the clock wound down in the final two minutes, the crowd chanted “Reg-gie, Reg-gie.” When the game ended, Miller walked across the court and embraced Lee, who had watched the game from his usual courtside seat.
Stephon Marbury had 19 points to lead the Knicks, who have lost seven in a row and saw their slim playoff hopes get even more tenuous.
The Pacers, with their fourth win in a row, moved ahead of Cleveland in the race for the seventh Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Cavaliers lost 111-80 to New Jersey on Tuesday night.
Jackson, who turned 27, was 12-for-22 from the field.
Miller was the first Pacer announced in the pregame introduction and was greeted with a loud mixture of boos and cheers. Some fans held up signs reading: “Reggie Thanks for the Memories,” “Reggie Please Don’t Retire” and “We Love Reggie.”
After coming out for good earlier in the fourth quarter, several fans yelled “thank you” to Miller during a timeout with 2:33 left. He nodded his head and raised his hand in acknowledgment.
New York fans are all too familiar with Miller’s heroics for the Pacers. In the Eastern Conference finals in 1994, he scored 25 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter—trading verbal barbs with Lee along the way—to lead the Pacers to a 93-86 win and force a seventh game, which the Knicks won.
The following year, Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in the final moments of a 107-105 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Garden. Miller’s outburst included two 3-pointers, a steal, a rebound and two free throws.
Indiana guards Fred Jones (lower back spasms) and Jamaal Tinsley (bruised left foot) did not dress. … Knicks coach Herb Williams, a longtime player for New York, was asked before the game what remembrances he had of Miller’s play against the Knicks. “No memories,” he said with a smile. “I’m blank.”