Even a bum ankle couldn't stop Reggie from being Killer Miller against the Chicago Bulls.
Miller showed why he's one of the best clutch players in the game, making three 3-pointers and two key free throws while hobbling on a sprained right ankle late in the fourth quarter - even jumping for joy after a few key plays - as Indiana held off Chicago 107-105 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.Miller scored 13 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and was 9-for-15 from the field after going a combined 9-for-27 in Games 1 and 2.
"He's a consummate pro, knows how to play the game," Michael Jordan said. "We forgot him a couple times and he made some big shots.
"Reggie is known for that."
It was a performance almost on par with some of the heroics he has displayed in the playoffs against New York, where he earned his rhyming nickname. This one, however, was enhanced by Miller playing injured.
"I heard something pop. It's still hurting pretty bad," Miller said of his ankle. "But I'm going to have somebody work on it."
He left little doubt he expects to play Monday in Game 4.
"I've got to play. I've got to be out there. Whatever it takes, I'll be out there," he said. "I've got a whole day of treatment. Going to go round the clock."
The Pacers cut their deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-7 series, and for all Miller's heroics, they still couldn't have done it without their reserves.
Jalen Rose led Indiana's bench production with 15 points, while Travis Best had 11 and Antonio Davis added 10 points and 12 rebounds. All three were on the court late in the game instead of Indiana's starters.
"We don't even like being called reserves," Davis said. "We have heart and soul, just like the start-ers."
The Pacers, who have trailed 0-2 in their three Eastern Conference finals appearances, gave themselves a shot at tying the series when it resumes Monday.
But to beat Chicago in a seven-game series, they'll have to become the first team ever to beat the Bulls in a playoff series after falling behind 0-2.
"The best game of the series is going to be Monday," Chicago coach Phil Jackson said.
Miller's clutch shooting was almost negated by the 3-point shooting of Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan.
Each made a 3 in the final 40 seconds as the Bulls closed to 103-102, but Davis made two foul shots with 22 seconds left to make it 105-102.
The Bulls were unable to set up a 3-pointer on their next possession, and Jordan drove the lane and was fouled. Jordan made only one of two, the Bulls fouled Miller with 10 seconds left and he made both free throws for a four-point lead.
Pippen dunked just before the buzzer, but it was too little, too late.
"They picked us apart to some degree," Jordan said. "We'll be fine. Today's just a bump in the road. We had a missed opportunity here, but I like our chances."
The Pacers did all the things they said they needed to do to make this a competitive series. They cut down on their turn-overs, committing only 15, got production from their bench and fair treatment from the referees.
They also reached their magic number by surpassing 100 points, making them 28-0 this season when they reach triple figures.
Jordan led Chicago with 30 points, while Pippen had 23 and Toni Kukoc 14.
Mark Jackson added 13 points for Indiana and Rik Smits had 12, but neither was much of a factor in the deciding moments.
Instead, it was Miller.
He buried two 3-pointers and a jumper in a span of 90 seconds as the Pacers opened a 97-89 lead.
Miller's final 3-pointer came with 1:34 left, making it 101-93.
"I wanted to give whatever I had," Miller said. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to drive by anyone. I played off the mistakes Chicago made on me, like leaving me wide open."
"From a team standpoint we should have been more aware of where he was on the court, knowing that at that point he wants the ball," Pippen said.
Miller hurt his right ankle when he stepped on Jordan's foot midway through the third quarter. With him unable to move at full speed, Jordan took advantage by getting himself wide open for a 3-pointer that made it 68-60 with six minutes left.