INDIANAPOLIS - Reggie Miller is still pushing opponents around.
With a sellout crowd chanting his name, the 39-year-old delivered another clutch playoff moment Friday night. He drew two fouls, made four free throws and hit a key jumper in the final 81 seconds to rally the Indiana Pacers past Detroit, 79-74 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Pacers now lead the best-of-seven series 2-1. Game 4 is Sunday at Indianapolis.
It was an atypical night for Miller until the end. He shot only 3-for-11 from the field, including a dismal 0-for-7 from 3-point range, and even missed a free throw in the fourth quarter. But when the Pacers needed him most, the five-time All-Star, who is retiring after the season, looked like anything but a fading star.
With the Pacers trailing 72-71, Miller drew the sixth foul on Richard Hamilton with 1:21 left and sank two free throws to wipe out Detroit's 72-71 lead. On the Pacers' next possession, Miller drew a foul on Hunter, then hit two more free throws to make it 75-72.
And when Detroit needed a stop to have a chance at a tying 3-pointer, Hunter fell down - or perhaps was pushed - and Miller hit a 21-foot jumper to make it 79-74.
"Lindsey (Hunter), who is an unbelievable defender, was crowding me, so I tried to use my body against him and tried to create some space, which I did," Miller said of his shot that sealed the victory.
Miller led the Pacers with 17 points, Jamaal Tinsley added 16 and Jeff Foster had 12 rebounds.
Detroit, the defending NBA champion, was upset with the calls and the non-calls.
"It was an unbelievable shot he hit," coach Larry Brown said. "But how could he get so open? ... It's a shame that in the final situation they leave it up to other people to decide the game."
Brown seemed to infer that Miller was using his trademark push-off to draw fouls and get free, and Hunter declined to comment for fear of a fine.
Miller conceded there was pushing and shoving by both teams but said it was part of the tiresome complaints he hears every year come playoff time.
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