Originally created 02/19/01

Best's shot lifts Pacers over Lakers



INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana's strategy in the fourth quarter was simple: Give the ball to Reggie Miller or Travis Best.

Miller scored 18 of his 33 points and Best had eight of his 17 in the final period, including the game-winner with 19 seconds to go, as the Pacers rallied from 14 points down and beat the Los Angeles Lakers 110-109 Sunday.

"We were getting a lot of good things off the pick and roll," Best said. "They had defended it pretty good a couple times, and that last time I actually saw a lane to the basket but I pulled up and took the shot and it went down for me."

Miller scored the Pacers' first nine points in the fourth quarter. Two free throws by Austin Croshere and a basket by Jermaine O'Neal tied the game at 94.

Minutes later, two free throws by Best gave Indiana its first lead since early in the second quarter, and a driving layup by Croshere put the Pacers up 101-98.

Kobe Bryant, who had missed four straight shots, pulled the Lakers within one, then Shaquille O'Neal made a basket and free throw for a 103-101 lead. There were five lead changes before Best hit the winning shot from 20 feet out.

"We were down double-digit points to the Lakers and they had the momentum going into the second half," Best said. "Isiah (coach Thomas) just said keep coming out and playing hard, play like you do in practice. That's exactly what we did. We didn't give up.

"It was a battle. Everyone contributed, and that's what we have to have to win," he said.

After Best's go-ahead basket, Jalen Rose appeared to steal the ball, but Bryant got the loose ball back and managed to call a timeout with four seconds to go. The Lakers then inbounded the ball to Bryant, who missed from the right corner as the game ended.

"I had a good look," Bryant said. "But the release felt a little long, so I started to shorten it up."

O'Neal led Los Angeles with 35 points and 15 rebounds, while Bryant finished with 33. Rose had 19 points - 16 in the third quarter - and Best finished with 18 points and 11 assists.

"We weren't able to stop them in the fourth quarter," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Reggie got hot and we just didn't have an answer for him."

The Lakers led 31-25 after one quarter. With Shaq on the bench, the Pacers made their first comeback.

O'Neal returned after a free throw by Zan Tabak pulled Indiana to 35-32, but two straight Los Angeles turnovers produced baskets by Tabak and Rose for Indiana's first lead at 36-35.

The lead lasted 40 seconds before two free throws by O'Neal put the Lakers back on top, then Bryant had five points in an 11-1 run over the final three minutes as Los Angeles went ahead 60-46 at the half. The Lakers led 83-74 going into the final period.

"I thought they were having trouble handling the pick and roll, and Travis was doing a good job breaking down the defense," Thomas said.

"Jalen, Travis and Reggie were all aggressive offensively in the second half. It's a big win for us because we've got such a young team, and confidence is a big thing for us."

Notes: Shaq is averaging 33.5 points and 13 rebounds in the four games he has played since a strained arch in his right foot forced him to miss six games and the All-Star game. ... The Lakers are 2-2 on a six-game road trip. ... In the Lakers' last game in Indianapolis, Rose had 32 points and Miller 25 in a 120-87 Indiana victory in Game 5 of last year's NBA Finals. ... Tabak started at center against Shaq and had three points in seven minutes. ... Miller, the league leader in free throw percentage, was 9-for-9. ... The victory was Indiana's first in 13 games this season in which its opponents have scored at least 100 points.