Originally created 05/20/00

Pacers eliminate 76ers



PHILADELPHIA -- Reggie Miller took his frustration out on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Miller, returning from a one-game suspension, scored 25 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a series-ending 106-90 victory over the 76ers in Game 6 on Friday night.

"The playoffs is when I'm at my best," said Miller, suspended for an altercation with 76ers center Matt Geiger in Game 4. "To not be a part of that (in Game 5), especially when your team is up 3-1, it kept bothering me all week. The more upset I got, the more I wanted to do something about it."

Philadelphia was trying to become the first NBA team to win a best-of-seven series after falling behind 3-0.

Indiana advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the third straight season and the fifth time in seven years, but is still seeking its first trip to the NBA Finals.

Jalen Rose added 21 points for Pacers, who will play the winner of the Miami-New York series.

Miller took over in the third quarter. He capped an 8-1 run by converting a backdoor alley-oop for his first basket since the first quarter and a 74-63 lead.

Miller nailed a jumper then hit a wide-open 3-pointer to make it 83-69 with 31 seconds left.

Travis Best made a pair of free throws as Indiana took its biggest lead to that point, 85-69, after three quarters.

After the 76ers cut it to 90-79 midway through the fourth, Miller iced the game with another 3-pointer to make it 93-79. He turned and stared at the 76ers' bench following the shot.

"I didn't say anything," Miller said. "Looks say a thousand words."

Philadelphia didn't get any closer than 14 the rest of the way.

"I told Mark (Jackson) after Game 5 that I was going to shoot as much as possible," Miller said. "Sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. I wanted to get going quickly because if my teammates saw me do that, they were going to jump on my back."

The game was stopped for about three minutes with 2:36 left in the game after a fan threw a bottle of water on the court.

Things didn't get as ugly as Game 3 when several fans threw debris on the court, including a full can of beer that nearly hit Philadelphia's George Lynch.

"The fans need to check themselves," Miller said.

Asked what he thought about the fans' derisive chants the entire series, Miller said, "I thought they were saying, `Reggie rocks."'

Aaron McKie led the 76ers with 19 points, and Allen Iverson had 18. Rik Smits added 18 for Indiana and Jackson had 12 points and 11 assists.

"We really moved the ball extremely well, especially in the beginning," Indiana coach Larry Bird said. "We turned it over early, but I wasn't concerned. We were setting the tempo."

Miller quieted the sellout crowd early by making his first four shots. He shot 6-of-8 in the first quarter for 13 points, but didn't score again until making two free throws early in the third.

Miller was 10-for-19 from the field.

"He's a great player," McKie said. "He steps up his game in the playoffs. I got to see it up close in person."

Philadelphia never led after Iverson opened the game with a fallaway jumper. Indiana went on a 10-1 run and led the rest of the way.

The 76ers got within one point several times and tied it twice on driving layups by Toni Kukoc in the second.

"I'm really proud of my team, but they're better," Sixers coach Larry Brown said. "Reggie was phenomenal. They came in and did great, did whatever they wanted offensively. That's the best anybody has executed against us all year."

A dunk by Austin Croshere gave Indiana its biggest lead to that point, 39-25, early in the second. But the Sixers went on a 16-3 run to cut it to 42-41.

Kukoc made it 45-45 on a layup after a block by Theo Ratliff. Kukoc tied it at 47 a minute later. Indiana led 56-53 at the half.

But the Pacers took control by outscoring Philadelphia 29-16 in the third.

"They're a veteran team and they know what they're doing," said Kukoc, who scored 12 points. "Every time they took a 10-point lead, we had to bring it. We weren't able to keep them from doing it again."

As the final seconds ticked, Iverson appeared inconsolable, sitting on the bench with a towel over his face.

"I'm a competitor. When I see the clock go down and I'm out, I know the game is over," Iverson said. "I saw the whole season pass by just like that and it hurt."

Notes: The Pacers hit nine of their first 10 shots and were 14-of-18 (77 percent) in the first quarter to take a 37-25 lead. ... The Sixers were 10-of-26 (39 percent) in the first and couldn't take advantage of six turnovers. ... Eric Snow, who sat out the last three games because of a chip fracture in his right ankle, played six minutes. ... Indiana outrebounded Philadelphia 46-41. ... Sixers rookie Jumaine Jones scored his first points of the series in the final minute. ... A fan behind the Sixers basket held a Superwoman sign with Miller's face superimposed over Superwoman.