NBA ROUNDUP : No Magic for Orlando After Pacer Sweep
The Orlando Magic took the Indiana Pacers’ place as a team that hasn’t won an NBA playoff series.
Of course, the Pacers have been at it much longer.
They finished a sweep of the Magic, 99-86, in Indianapolis on Monday night behind Reggie Miller’s 31 points, including eight during a 13-0 fourth-quarter run that turned the game toward the Pacers.
It was Indiana’s first playoff series victory since the team joined the NBA in 1976. Previous first-round losses were to New York (1993), Boston (1991, 1992), Detroit (1990), Atlanta (1987) and Philadelphia (1981).
“I never imagined a sweep,” Pacer Coach Larry Brown said. “Orlando is a class act. I told Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway after the game that they’ll never be in this situation again.”
They had never been in one like it before, because it was Orlando’s first venture into the playoffs, in the franchise’s fifth season.
Miller took a seat on the bench at the end of the third quarter, then returned with eight minutes to play after the Magic had built an eight-point lead.
“I was trying to lay low and see what was going to happen, see what kind of defense they were going to throw at me,” he said. “I picked my opportunity and did what I had to do. I got a lot of good looks at the basket, and my shot was on.”
The Magic led, 78-70, when Shaquille O’Neal picked up his fifth foul and went to the bench with 9:22 to play. After Anthony Avent scored for Orlando with eight minutes to go, Rik Smits started the Pacers’ 13-0 streak.
Miller made a free throw on a technical foul against Tree Rollins, then Smits had a three-point play. Miller, who was 10 for 16 from the field, made two baskets, Vern Fleming made another and Miller added a three-point goal for an 88-80 Indiana lead.
“They played good defense, and we had three turnovers,” O’Neal said of the turning point of the game. “They kept their composure and hit the big shots when they needed them.”
A basket with 4:18 left by O’Neal, who led Orlando with 23 points, was the final field goal for the Magic, outscored, 31-14, in the fourth quarter.
The fouls started going against O’Neal in the second half.
“I just hope the next time we play I get more respect,” he said. “This is my third year. I’m not a rookie anymore. I should get more respect. The rule says you can’t push off the back, so if somebody pushes me off the block I want the call.”
Scott scored 17 points and Hardaway had 13 for Orlando. But Hardaway also had 10 turnovers, one short of the NBA playoff record. Orlando had 23 turnovers.
Smits had 22 points and Dale Davis had 12 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Pacers, who advanced to the second round against the winner of the Atlanta-Miami series, which is tied at one game apiece.
“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Miller. “Anything can happen in a seven-game series.”
Denver 110, Seattle 93--Reggie Williams scored 31 points, Dikembe Mutombo had 19 points and 13 rebounds and the Nuggets outhustled the SuperSonics at Denver to salvage Game 3 of their best-of-five playoff series.
Denver, displaying a more effective inside game than the SuperSonics, took a 15-point first-quarter lead. Seattle couldn’t get the deficit below seven points.
Denver, which was outrebounded, 104-78, in the first two games, held a 43-25 advantage this time, outshot the visitors 60% to 42% and blocked 12 shots to Seattle’s three.
The victory, which snapped an 11-game playoff losing streak for the Nuggets, was their first in the postseason since May 14, 1988.
Seattle leads the first-round series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled here Thursday night.
A fifth game, if necessary, would be played Saturday afternoon at Seattle.
Detlef Schrempf led the SuperSonics with 18 points and Sam Perkins had 17.
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