With John Starks and Hubert Davis hounding him all night, Miller was a nonfactor as the Knicks held off a late rally to defeat the Pacers, 100-89, and take the first game of the Eastern Conference finals. It was only the second time the Knicks have reached the century mark in the playoffs.
Miller's line: 14 points on 11 shot attempts -- almost six fewer shots than he has averaged during nine previous playoff games. The lack of production from their leading scorer leaves the Pacers with a day to figure out how to get Miller more shots in Game 2 tomorrow.
"We have to figure out ways to get Reggie's hands on the ball," said Indiana coach Larry Brown. "Against the Knicks, you really have to drive the ball."
Center Patrick Ewing had little trouble driving the ball, bullying his way to a 28-point, 11-rebound, six-block performance to lead the Knicks. Forward Charles Oakley had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Greg Anthony came off the bench to add 16 points.
Indiana got a 27-point, 10-rebound effort from Rik Smits, but little else. Miller and Byron Scott, the two three-point threats for the Pacers, had just one -- by Miller in the final seconds. The Pacers, averaging nearly five three-pointers a game in the playoffs going into last night, obviously need to put together a game plan to get shots from beyond the arc.
"You have to understand their game plan -- they're going to dog me all over the floor, keeping two or three people around me," said Miller, who averaged 31 points against the Knicks in the playoffs last year. "I have to be more aggressive. I think I waited for the game to come to me, instead of going and getting into the game."
Even with Miller out of the game, the Pacers were still able to climb out of a first-half hole that saw them fall behind by 17 points. A layup by Vern Fleming (11 points) with 4:10 left got Indiana within 85-83.
But Davis, who had 12 points in 20 minutes for the Knicks, would hit the biggest shot of the night for New York. His three-pointer from just right of the key with 3:51 left gave the Knicks an 88-83 lead and control of the game. Indiana was never really a threat after the shot by Davis.
"It was a play called for myself and I felt daylight, and I felt I could make the shot," Davis said.
Davis' shot helped prevent the Pacers from stealing Game 1, something they were able to do against the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks. Making their first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals, the Pacers are not ready to fold their tent.
"We've got to go back to the drawing board -- it takes four games to win," Miller said. "Both teams came out with high intensity."
Maybe too much intensity from Oakley, who drew a technical foul after nailing Miller with a shoulder foul in the opening minute. But the anticipated nastiness -- especially between Miller and Starks, who have exchanged unpleasantries in the past -- never developed.
"All that stuff has been blown out of proportion," Miller said of the dTC matchup against Starks. "That's something you guys [in the media] have created."
The media didn't create Starks' head butt of Miller during last years' hard-fought series, which earned Starks an ejection. Starks was too busy chasing Miller around the court to get involved in any extracurricular activity.
"He's a great catch-and-shoot shooter and if he catches the ball he knocks down the shot," Starks said. "So you have to stay with him at all times, because he's very active without the basketball."
The Knicks got another solid game from Anthony, who scored his 16 points in 23 minutes. Not known much for his outside shot, Anthony hit three of New York's six three-pointers.
"When you have two centers the magnitude of Patrick and Rik Smits, if you can knock down a couple of perimeter shots, it kind of frees it up for them," Anthony said. "That's really what [the New York guards] have to do. We have four guys, and on any given night hopefully one of us will shoot the ball well enough to keep them honest and try to free up the big fella."
Ewing got freed up, but the Knicks didn't anticipate Smits getting as hot as he did. The 7-foot-4 center hit 10 of 17 shots and had his 27 points and 10 rebounds in just 27 minutes.