The Pacers didn't need luck, because Bobby Blump was their honorary score keeper. He was a member of the 1953 Milan High School Indiana state championship basketball team which was made famous in the movie "Hoosiers."
A little luck never hurts, but then again, how often does Michael Jordan miss his last two shots and then stumble, with no foul called, as he drives to the basket in the final seconds?With Blump and another Indiana legend, Pacers coach Larry Bird, in the arena, it was a perfect evening for one of the most memorable night's of basketball in Indiana history.
It wound up turning into one as well. The Pacers held court once again by beating the Bulls 92-89.
After a pair of Travis Best foul shots put Indiana up 91-89 with eight seconds remaining, the Bulls called a timeout. The play was of course designed for Jordan.
He took the inbounds pass and then stared Derrick McKey down. Jordan faked left and then when right. Just as he was about to get past McKey, Jordan's toe clipped McKey's foot and Jordan went stumbling, and pandemonium took over Market Square Arena. No foul? Not tonight, and for the second straight game Jordan's attempt at a game-winner failed.
"Anytime Michael gets the ball in his hand he's driving to get contact," Bird said. "I thought McKey did a great job on him. . . . Really it was luck because Michael slipped and went down."
Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals will be Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in Chicago.
"Even if I stumbled on his feet, it still should be a foul," Jordan said. "I think that's obvious."
When McKey saw Jordan go down he said he expected a whistle whether he fouled him or not. And he was shocked when there was no call.
The Pacers made it clear early Friday night that Game 5 was a fluke. They shot 43 percent in the first quarter, which was double their Game 5 output. But Indiana really established itself in the second quarter - courtesy of Jalen Rose.
Rose missed Wednesday night's game because of a suspension, and while Bird downplayed his absence after the loss, last night he displayed just how important he is to Indiana.
Rose came off the bench and opened the second quarter with a jumper, and then a couple of possessions later he leveled Toni Kukoc who was coasting in for an easy dunk. Bird already proved that a game-winning shot by Miller can't make him smile, but he had to smile after Rose's foul.
Bird was very critical of his team's softness after Game 5, but Rose let the Bulls know nothing would come easy. Rose connected on another jumper on the ensuing possession.
On Chicago's next possession, Rose's tenacious defense forced Michael Jordan into a turnover. Rose then fed the ball to Rik Smits for an easy jumper.
Maybe Rose's suspension was a bigger deal than Bird would have everyone believe.
With Rose on the court, and Miller being shut down, the Pacers built a 49-39 lead. Then, oddly, they went away from what got them the lead. Indiana's next six shots all came from downtown - and they made zero.
During that stretch Chicago went on a 11-0 run. Suddenly Indiana was playing catch-up again. No big deal though, even during its wins, Indiana trailed by as many as eight.
It was the play of another sub that finally got the Pacers rolling again. After a 5-0 run by the Bulls put them up 69-64, Best fed Dale Davis with a nifty around-the-back pass which resulted in a slam.
On Chicago's next two possessions, Scottie Pippen missed jumpers, while Indiana countered with a jumper by Antonio Davis and then Best to take a 70-69 to end the quarter.
The teams essentially traded buckets during the fourth quarter right down to the point where Jordan failed to hold up his end of the deal.
Rik Smits was the man for Indiana. He scored 25 points on 11-of-12 shooting. The Pacers definitely needed it because Miller wasn't his usual self. He only scored eight points on 2-of-13 shooting. Dale Davis' 19 points were also key for the Pacers.
Jordan led Chicago with 35 points while Pippen added 19.