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Reggie Miller's three-pointer with seven-tenths of a second to go capped a fourth-quarter long-distance shooting barrage and gave the Indiana Pacers a 96-94 victory over the Chicago Bulls, evening the Eastern Conference finals at two games each.
"We wanted to get Jordan out of the play and he switched," said Miller. "Pippen wasn't playing me aggressively and Derrick made the pass. All I had to do was get my feet square."
Miller added to his growing playoff legend after Scottie Pippen missed a pair of free throws for Chicago and the ball went out of bounds with 2.9 seconds to go. Miller lost Ron Harper as he curled around a series of picks and bumped aside Michael Jordan at the top of the circle before taking the inbound pass from McKey and burying the game-winner from the right wing.
"We designed the play for Reggie," Pacers coach Larry Bird said. "I didn't think he was going to as wide open as he was. He was wide open. I knew he was going to make it."
The Bulls had one last chance, but Jordan, who scored 28 points, saw his double-pump 25-foot banker rattle in and out as the horn sounded, completing an erratic final three minutes for the two-time defending NBA champions.
"Michael got a look and a shot that scared me," Pacers forward Antonio Davis said. "He double- and triple-clutched and I said there's no way - not even for him."
"Every time I shoot the ball I think it's going in," said Jordan, who was 12-of-27 from the field. "But it's out of my hands once it leaves my hands. I was surprised I got it off. But a lot of things surprised me today."
Chicago had some tough breaks with the calls down the stretch. In addition to the call against Rodman, who was whistled for an offensive foul with 21 seconds to play, Best appeared to have a toe on the line on his three-pointer, and a loose ball ruled off Pippen with 2:16 to go appeared to go off one of the Pacers.
"This is an unbelievable finish," Bulls coach Phil Jackson said. "The Pacers should not have been in the position to do that. This was Munich in '72 revisited. I doubt I can watch the last 10 minutes (again) without calling (NBA vice president of basketball operations) Rod Thorn. The offensive foul on Rodman was unbelievable."
"That was a tough call, but we can't whine about it," Chicago guard Steve Kerr said. "But maybe we should. It worked for the Pacers."
Kukoc scored 18 points, Harper added 13 and Pippen 12 for the Bulls, who shot 56 percent (39-of-70), but just 4-of-9 from behind the arc. Rodman pulled down 16 rebounds, helping Chicago to a 40-32 advantage on the boards. Pippen had 10 assists and seven rebounds, but made just 2-of-7 free throws.
"I'm part of the team and we all have to step forward," Jordan said. "I'm not going to point fingers. But we all have to move on. Things happened here today but you have to roll with the punches."
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