Wednesday, June 2, 1999
Miller takes his shots at Ewing
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- About an hour after Reggie Miller hit the two free throws that won Game 2, he sat at the podium for his news conference and spotted Patrick Ewing entering in the room.
"As long as you make the last (shot), that's all that matters," Miller said. "Right, Pat?"
The jab was too easy for Miller to resist, coming after Ewing's last-gasp jumper hit the back of the rim.
After restraining himself for more than a week and not saying anything even remotely controversial, Miller struck with his first dig. And the remark figures to only fuel the animosity that makes the Pacers-Knicks rivalry such a great one.
"It's going to be a war," Ewing said.
Both teams took the day off Wednesday since the series, tied 1-1, will not resume until Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
By then, the hostility will shift the other way -- most of it aimed squarely at the No. 1 Knick killer of the decade, Miller.
At Market Square Arena, the Knicks had to put up with taunting Indiana fans. Some of them behind the New York bench unleashed a stream of insults. Others showered the players with beer and hurled coins as they left the court.
During the game, the jeering of Ewing became so intense that he waved his arms in an emphatic "bring it on" gesture completely out of character for the 14-year veteran. At another point, Ewing mixed it up in a friendly manner with four Pacers fans sitting alongide the players' seats.
"They don't like me here," Ewing said.
Ewing's animated Rileyesque gesture, coming as it did when the Knicks were falling behind by 17 points, was somehow indicative of the confidence he and his team are playing with this postseason.
A month and a half ago, a 17-point deficit would have spelled certain doom for a team struggling to incorporate so many new additions and uncertain if it would make the playoffs -- or whether its coach would survive to see another day on the bench.
These days, however, there is a fearlessness and cockiness to the Knicks that has surprised the Pacers.
"We won, and it was not a pretty win, but a win is a win," Antonio Davis said. "New York will not go away. We must get ready to get in their house and go to work. We're looking forward to it."
Most irritating to both teams was the way Game 2 was officiated by the veteran crew of Dick Bavetta, Hue Hollins and Joe Forte. New York was whistled for 40 fouls, including five on its point guards in the first nine minutes of the game. Miller hit the winning free throws with 2 seconds left after Chris Childs was whistled for his sixth foul.
"We let the officiating overwhelm us at first," Houston said.
Indiana's Rik Smits was limited to 13 minutes because of foul trouble, with a couple of the calls that went against him among the most questionable of the night.
After Miller made his free throws, New York had one last chance. Charlie Ward, a former Heisman-winning quarterback at Florida State, whipped a court-length pass to Ewing near the opposing free throw line.
Ewing wheeled and tossed up a high-arching shot that caromed off the rim.
"It was a good look -- just missed," said coach Jeff Van Gundy, who contained himself when asked to comment on the officiating.
Larry Johnson, Childs and Chris Dudley fouled out, Thomas, Ewing and Ward had four apiece and Marcus Camby had five -- the last of which was a blocking foul with 31 seconds left that the Knicks strongly felt should have gone the other way.
"When your best players are sitting next to you," Van Gundy said, "it's not a great feeling."
Said Childs: "We took their best shot, and I'm pretty sure there's going to be more shots taken, but I'm telling you, this is a special, special group of guys. We have so much fight and determination in us. We're going to play to the end."