The starters for the Indiana Pacers were missing in action. So coach Larry Bird hit the New York Knicks with his reserves.
Indiana's non-starters outscored New York's 56-20 and brought the Pacers back from a 19-point deficit to defeat the Knicks 93-83 Tuesday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.Reserves Jalen Rose, Travis Best and Antonio Davis provided the scoring punch, and Derek McKey helped shut down New York's Allan Houston.
"There is no question that the bench won the game for us," Bird said. "I think the starters were embarassed."
Indiana trailed 28-9 late in the first quarter as its starters missed 16 of 18 shots and had six turnovers that led to 13 New York points. Reserves then scored 33 of Indiana's next 38 points, giving the Pacers a 47-45 lead.
"They played fantastic. That's why you have 12-man rosters," Reggie Miller said. "They got us back in the game, and in the fourth quarter really put them away."
"They won the ball game," said Miller's backcourt mate, Mark Jackson. "It's as simple as that."
Rose and Best finished with 18 points apiece and Davis had 14.
"They did a phenomenal job," Jackson said, pointing out that big contributions from the reserves are nothing new on a team that set a franchise record of 58 NBA victories this season after a 2-5 start.
"There's pressure on our shoulders to come out and perform," Best said. "We just wanted to play solid defense. We felt if we did that, we could really be in the game. That's what we really concentrated on."
Rose, Best and Davis played the entire second quarter, and McKey played nine minutes as the Pacers outscored New York 34-14 in the period. Rose was perfect in the quarter offensively as he made all four of his shots from the field and all five of his free throws, in addition to making two steals.
"We got some stops and they didn't have the momentum in the second quarter," Best said. "The big thing was we played defense. They really got out and got some easy baskets in the first quarter."