March 30, 1998 in Sports

Pacers Hit All-Time Low

Associated Press
 

Larry Bird once scored 60 points in a game. His entire Indiana Pacers team couldn’t even match that Sunday.

The Pacers set a record for the fewest points in a game since the advent of the shot clock in losing 74-55 to the San Antonio Spurs.

“I was wondering where we were going to get our scoring from today,” said Bird, Indiana’s rookie coach.

The Pacers played without their two leading scorers. Reggie Miller was sitting out a one-game suspension and Rik Smits is injured.

The Pacers, who scored 133 points on Friday, shot 27 percent and had nine points in the fourth period.

The previous game low was 57, set three times, last by Orlando against Cleveland on Dec. 4, 1996. Indiana also matched the league record for least points in a second half with 21, tying the mark set by Miami at Atlanta on Nov. 15 1996.

“When you miss your two guys that score a lot of points for you, it pushes the burden on the other guys,” Bird said. “I thought at best somebody else would step up.”

Defensively, Bird had no complaints of the effort against a San Antonio team that started three 7-footers.

The combined point total of 129 points was the third lowest since the 24-second clock was introduced in the 1954-55 season.

The Spurs started 7-foot Tim Duncan, 7-1 David Robinson and 7-0 Will Perdue - and the trio created mismatches Indiana could not handle, such as Duncan on 6-3 guard Mark Jackson for much of the game.

“Coach did not want me running around through screens all day. He told me just to stay in front of Mark,” said Duncan, who led the Spurs with 24 points. “Our defense is better with three 7-footers because of our rotations. That had a hand in their bad shooting percentage.”

Said Jackson: “When I did penetrate, there were all those big bodies all around.”

Van Horn says Utes by five

Keith Van Horn’s eyes are on the playoffs, but his heart is in San Antonio.

“I wish I could be there,” the New Jersey Nets rookie said Sunday after practice. “But obviously we have the playoffs at hand with this team and I can’t make it down. If I was to go down there, I would get worn out.”

Van Horn, Utah’s career leading scorer, has a particular interest in tonight’s NCAA championship game between the Utes and Kentucky. But he’ll pass on a seat at the Alamodome and settle for a spot in front of the television.

Nets coach John Calipari told Van Horn that he could get him a private jet for the game.

“He’s fearful that he would go down and it would take the shine off the Utah team and put it on him,” Calipari said. “How about this guy?”

Van Horn, who left a telephone message for coach Rick Majerus after Utah’s win over North Carolina, isn’t shy about predicting the outcome of the title game.

“Utah, by five,” he says, explaining Kentucky doesn’t have the same talent it had when it beat Utah in the tournament in 1993, ‘96 and ‘97.

“They still have a very good team, but when we lost to them they had seven NBA players,” he said. ” … Utah is just going to have to play a very sound basketball game. I think if they do that, they can come out a winner.”

Van Horn has no regrets about missing the Final Four, saying his Utah squad went as far as it could and ran into better teams. But he’s intrigued by his new role of fan.

“I have never been a fan before,” he said. “And those are the guys I played with. It’s definitely a weird experience, cheering for guys I used to be on the court with. It’s a different experience, but I am with them all the way.”

When asked if he had Utah in his Final Four pool, Van Horn said yes, then gave a coy laugh.

“He was trying to win the money,” Calipari cracked.

In the meantime, the Nets face serious business. They are vying for the last playoff spot in the East with Washington and Orlando with 11 games left. The Nets’ next game is against Atlanta on Tuesday.

“We’re trying to make the playoffs here, and that’s got to be my No. 1 priority,” Van Horn said.

Around the league

Shaquille O’Neal had 33 points and 13 rebounds despite sitting out the fourth quarter Sunday night as the Los Angeles Lakers rebounded from a disheartening loss at Utah to overwhelm the visiting Washington Wizards 116-89.

At Oakland, Calif., Isaiah Rider had 21 points, including 14 in the third quarter, as the Portland Trail Blazers pulled away to beat the Golden State Warriors 99-83.

The Trail Blazers, who clinched a playoff spot Thursday, have won three straight. Brian Grant had 19 points and Damon Stoudamire added 12.

At Miami, Dan Majerle scored a season-high 22 points and Tim Hardaway had 16 points and a season-high 15 assists as the Miami Heat clinched their second straight Atlantic Division title with a 109-77 victory over the Houston Rockets.

At Milwaukee, Michael Jordan scored 30 points, many of them with flashbulbs popping throughout the Bradley Center, as the Chicago Bulls beat the Milwaukee Bucks 104-87 for their ninth straight victory. Chicago’s Scottie Pippen missed his second straight game with the flu.

At Phoenix, Cliff Robinson scored 20 points and Kevin Johnson came off the bench to contribute 15 points and 11 assists as the Phoenix Suns pulled away late to beat the Vancouver Grizzlies 106-98.

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