Pacers crash the Lakers' party, 120-87

Indiana dominates last home game to cut deficit to 3-2

Rose's 32 spark out

Bird heads to L.A. '96 minutes from title'

June 17, 2000|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

INDIANAPOLIS - Jalen Rose may have been the most adamant of all the Indiana Pacers, shaking his head as if he would personally see to it that a celebration would not occur.

This happened the day bex fore Game 5 of the NBA Fix nals when Rose met with the media and the question was posed to him about a possix ble Los Angeles Lakers corox nation ceremony on his team's home floor.

He then went out last night and scored 32 points - in about every way imaginable - in the Pacers' 120-87 win over Los Angeles in front of 18,345 at Conseco Fieldhouse last night. The Lakers now hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of- seven series with Game 6 Monday in Los Angeles.

"I talked about us not alx lowing them to celebrate on our home floor," Rose said. "I was serious about that. That would be a bad feeling to end our season on. The way our crowd has watched us play all year, they're excited about this moment. This is the first time the Pacers have been to the NBA Finals. It can be old hat in California.

"For this to be happening for our town, we didn't want them to leave today's game feeling like the season was a disappointment."

Instead, Pacers fans are now filled with the kind of hope that comes from a 33-point win. It was the fourth-largest margin of victory in an NBA Finals game.

It may also have shifted momentum back to Indiana after a heartbreaking two-point loss in overtime Wednesday. The Lakers are now the team that must regroup after a different kind of disappointing loss.

"We've bounced back from games like this before," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "I don't like to think of a team that has championship quality in it that loses by 33 points. We have to go prove something to ourselves when we go back home in this regard."

The Lakers continued a trend that has hampered them throughout the playoffs in not being able to close out teams. Los Angeles fell to 3-6 in games during the playoffs where it can eliminate its opponent.

Shaquille O'Neal once again did his part but got almost no help from any of his teammates. He finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds. Glen Rice added 11, the only other Laker to score in double figures, as Kobe Bryant was held in check in part by foul trouble after taking over Game 4 in overtime.

"We are not worried," O'Neal said. "We just have to play better ball. They were at home and usually when players are at home, they are very comfortable, and they shot the ball very, very, very well."

This one was just as much good Pacers as it was bad Lakers, especially where Rose and Reggie Miller are concerned.

Rose made Larry Bird's final home game as coach of the Pacers a blowout by scoring just about every way. Rose shot 4-for-5 from three-point territory, had no trouble shooting medium-range jumpers over Rice and was able to penetrate the Lakers' defense for layups. Miller scored 25 points.

"We have to have scoring out of both of them, no question," Bird said. "When Jalen gets it going, they forget about Reggie sometimes and he'll pop it from the side. Jalen's a playmaker. When they close up on him, he can drive it, find people. Together when they got it going like they did tonight, they're fun to watch."

Not if you are attempting to guard them as Bryant and Rice were trying to do. Both had subpar games offensively and defensively.

Bryant, who paced the Lakers' two-point win Wednesday, was held to 4-for-20 shooting from the field and eight points. He also was abused by Miller on the defensive end, picking up five fouls in three quarters.

"I didn't have a good game tonight," Bryant said. "You just bounce back. You just put it behind you and we'll go home. That's what we played all season for, to have home-court advantage. We came here, did what we had to do. We got one, now we're going back to Staples [Center]."

The Pacers came out playing their best quarter of the playoffs, putting up 39 points. They shot 75 percent in the first period and made all six three-point attempts.

Los Angeles trailed 39-28 after that first period and could never really cut into that deficit. It was apparent that this was going to be a good night for Indiana early when Miller made a three-point basket from the corner while getting fouled in the process.

The four-point play put the Pacers up 22-13 with just under five minutes left in the third quarter and was the first of two plays where Miller got fouled attempting to shoot a three.

Less than 30 seconds into the fourth quarter and with the Lakers down by 19, Miller was hit by Derek Fisher while shooting a three, then Fisher was hit with a technical foul.

Miller made all four free throws and squashed any notion of a possible Lakers comeback.

"There's no pressure on us," Miller said. "All the pressure's on them. From the get-go, they were supposed to beat us. They were supposed to sweep us. We can come out and play free and loose, which I'm sure a lot of guys are going to like, especially myself."

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