Reggie Miller isn’t the only player who hits winning shots for the Indiana Pacers.
After a final 13 seconds that resembled nothing so much as a high-stakes game of H-O-R-S-E, Rik Smits delivered the winner and tied the NBA Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece.
Smits’ leaning 14-footer at the buzzer Monday lifted the Pacers to a 94-93 victory over the Orlando Magic. The shot came after a timeout with 1.3 seconds left and capped a run of three consecutive 3-pointers in the final 13.3 seconds, two by the Magic and one by Miller.
“I was so jealous of Rik,” Miller said. “I’m glad we won, but inside it was killing me.”
With Orlando’s Shaquille O’Neal and Horace Grant having fouled out, Smits took an inbounds pass from Derrick McKey, turned and faked reserve center Tree Rollins off his feet. Smits, who had missed 10 of his first 15 shots, ducked under Rollins and tossed in the higharcing winner.
“I really never doubted it,” said Smits, who had 21 points. “I pictured it in my mind before I did it coming out of the timeout and it worked to a T.”
With 13.3 seconds left, Brian Shaw of Orlando hit a trey to give the Magic a 90-89 edge, but that was only the beginning of an astonishing sequence of playoff shooting at its finest.
Eight seconds later, it was Miller’s turn. He worked himself free and fired a 3-pointer from the left side while fading away, swishing the shot with 5.2 seconds to go.
After another timeout, Anfernee Hardaway had his moment. He caught an inbounds pass, dribbled once and hoisted a 3-pointer from the left side - inches behind the stripe - over the outstretched arm of Haywoode Workman with 1.3 seconds to play.
The Magic were up 93-92, but the Pacers had one more shot in them.
“I guess if we could have had one more possession, we might have been able to change the outcome,” Orlando coach Brian Hill said. “It was one of those games where whoever had the last opportunity was going to win the basketball game.”
The crushing shot by Smits squared the series after Indiana lost the first two on the road. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Orlando.
Rollins, a 7-foot-1 veteran, who has played 18 years in the NBA, was on the floor because O’Neal was sitting on the bench. Smits faked with the ball and Rollins left his feet just long enough for Smits to get a good look at the basket.
“We didn’t want him to get it down inside,” said Rollins, 39, who is also an assistant coach for the Magic. “I was trying to concentrate on not letting him go backdoor so he flashed to the free throw line. In 1.3 seconds, you think if you make him change, you’ve got it. But he hit it. It was a perfect shot.”
Miller had 23 points, including five 3-pointers. Hardaway led Orlando with 26 and Dennis Scott added 22.
The loss was devastating to the Magic, who appeared on the verge of pulling out the game despite O’Neal’s second straight rough outing. He fouled out with 1:27 to play, scored just 16 points and went 0 for 8 from the line.
Orlando turned up the defensive pressure and led 78-75 early in the fourth quarter while Indiana missed its first four shots of the period and didn’t score until McKey hit a basket with 7:44 to play.
“We’ll come back,” Hill said. “We’ll come back from this loss. We have home-court advantage and we plan to make the most of it.”
Pacers 94, Magic 93
Grant 3-8 1-2 7, D.Scott 8-14 4-4 22, O’Neal 8-12 0-8 16, Anderson 4-10 3-3 12, Hardaway 11-21 2-2 26, Rollins 0-0 0-0 0, Turner 1-1 0-0 3, Shaw 2-4 1-2 7, Bowie 0-1 0-0 0, Royal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-71 11-21 93.
D.Davis 3-5 0-0 6, McKey 3-9 8-8 14, Smits 6-16 9-11 21, Jackson 5-9 0-0 13, Miller 8-16 2-3 23, B.Scott 1-8 3-4 5, A.Davis 2-3 0-2 4, Mitchell 3-6 0-0 6, Workman 0-1 0-0 0, Ferrell 1-3 0-0 2.Totals 32-76 22-28 94.
Orlando 26 21 24 22 - 93
Indiana 26 27 22 19 - 94
3-Point goals-Orlando 8-21 (Shaw 2-2, D.Scott 2-6, Hardaway 2-7, Turner 1-1, Anderson 1-5), Indiana 8-21 (Miller 5-9, Jackson 3-5, McKey 0-3, B.Scott 0-4). Fouled out-O’Neal, Grant. Rebounds-Orlando 47 (Grant 12), Indiana 47 (Smits, Jackson 7). Assists-Orlando 18 (Shaw 5), Indiana 21 (Smits 7). Total fouls- Orlando 27, Indiana 22. Technicals-D.Scott. A-16,477 (16,530).