Famous Knicks-slayer and Hall of Famer Reggie Miller will serve as the analyst for the game, joining play-by-play man Kevin Harlan and reporter Rachel Nichols some 18 years, to the day, of Miller’s unforgettable Game 1 Eastern Conference semifinal showing against the Knicks.
You might remember that one, the game that saw Miller score eight points in 8.9 seconds to beat the Knicks. I bet Spike Lee, a regular at Knicks games then and now, remembers.
The Knicks are already down a game in this series with the Pacers. They looked listless in Sunday’s Game 1 loss, when the Pacers outworked them, per Knicks’ star Carmelo Anthony. This is the sixth playoff series between the two franchises, but the first for the Pacers without Miller in uniform.
They’ve split the previous matches evenly. The Knicks beat the Pacers in four games in the first round in 1993, in seven games in the conference finals in 1994 (Miller’s 25 points in the fourth quarter of the Pacers’ Game 5 win and taunting of Lee set the rivalry on fire) and in six games in the conference finals in 1999. The Pacers beat the Knicks in seven games in the semifinals in 1995, in five games in the semifinals in 1998 and in six games in the conference finals in 2000.
A trip to The Finals is not on the line this time. But another chapter in this storied rivalry will be written either way. Having Miller around tonight to analyze and witness the affair is just the sort of drama you might expect from this series and, especially, TNT.
They’ve got intimate knowledge of the place, both of having been in the building when it’s an emotional power keg, when the hometown fans are cranked up and caught up in the atmosphere of a big game.
They’ll be on the other side this time, though, wearing the wrong colored jerseys for Game 3 Thursday night (7 ET, TNT). But that doesn’t change the fact that these games serve as a homecoming of sorts for these Heat stars whose careers took off in “Brew City.”
Wade came to town as an unheralded Marquette recruit and left a lottery pick, beloved by the locals as the star who helped restore a once proud program to national prominence. His college jersey hangs in the rafters of the arena, one of the retired numbers of the greats to have called the city home at some point.
Allen’s future Hall of Fame career started in Milwaukee, he played the first six and a half seasons of his career with the Bucks, helped them to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001 and earned three trips to the All-Star game as a Buck before being traded to Seattle in February of 2003.
“I went to Milwaukee with not a lot of expectations and I came out of Milwaukee the fifth pick of the Draft,” Wade said. “Milwaukee has been special to me. It has helped me get to this point. Going back there in the playoffs is a cool thing. It’s very humbling (having his jersey retired). Every time I look up there, I think about how far I have come. It’s special to be able to play in an arena where your jersey hangs.” (more…)
OKLAHOMA CITY – With 90 points in his last two games, Carmelo Anthony is a making a hard charge at Kevin Durant, who can become the first player to win fourconsecutive scoring titles since Michael Jordan won seven in a row 20 years ago.
Entering tonight’s Oklahoma City Thunder game against the San Antonio Spurs (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT), Durant leads the league at 28.3 ppg. The sizzling Anthony has climbed to 28.1.
How does Durant feel about this little development?
“He can have it,” Durant said flatly after OKC’s Thursday morning shootaround.
In the nine games that Anthony has played since missing three in a row and six of eight with a bothersome right knee, he’s been lethal, averaging 31.4 ppg and shooting 48.1 percent overall and 40 percent from 3-point range. To no coincidence, the Knicks are riding a 10-game winning streak.
“I mean the stuff he’s doing right now, every time he touches the ball it looks like it’s going to go in,” Durant said. “He’s having a nice run right now and his confidence is high. I’m sure he’s going to take over. If it happens, cool.”
Anthony’s scoring blitz is even more spectacular over the last five games: 33.6 ppg, 52.5 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from beyond the arc. He poured in 50 Tuesday against the Heat without LeBron James (fourth in scoring at 26.9 ppg) and Dwyane Wade, and followed up with 40 Wednesday night against Atlanta.
OKC and New York both have eight games left. Thunder coach Scott Brooks has already said he has no plans to rest his starters down the stretch as they battle San Antonio for the West’s No. 1 seed. The Knicks are locked in a struggle for the East’s No. 2 seed with the Indiana Pacers.
“I coached Carmelo for three years (as an assistant coach at Denver), that’s probably not something that he wants,” Brooks said of the scoring title, which would be the first of Anthony’s 10-year career. “He wants the championship just as much as KD does. But it is exciting. It’s always exciting when you get down to the last week of the season — who gets the scoring title, who gets the rebounding title? Those are minor things. Kevin’s worried about the big picture.
“But, it would be cool; definitely would be a great opportunity to be his age and have it four straight years.”
It would be historic.
Durant can win four scoring titles in his first six seasons and before he turns 25 (which he will in September). He’s already the first to capture three consecutive scoring titles since Jordan did it in his return from baseball from 1995-98. Only Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain can claim scoring titles in more than three consecutive seasons. Chamberlain also won it seven times from 1959-66.
“Don’t get me wrong, I never want to take stuff like that for granted, but if it happens, it happens,” Durant said. “I’m just going to play my game. I’m not going to force it too much and think about it too much and try to get it. But if it’s meant to be then it will happen.”
Durant is also shooting for a most enviable double-double of sorts as the first player ever to win the scoring title and join the exclusive 50-40-90 club — 50 percent shooting from the field, 40 percent from 3-point range and 90 percent from the arc (Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki are the others and Bird and Nash are the only ones to do it multiple times).
A down tick in Durant’s scoring and shooting since the All-Star break — 26.1 ppg, 47 percent overall and 35.1 percent on 3s — recently put him in jeopardy of dipping below the first two thresholds. But he’s gained a bit of wiggle room over the last six games while averaging 27.8 ppg on 51.4 percent shooting and 52.9 percent from beyond the arc. Entering tonight’s game, Durant’s percentages line up like this: 50.5, 41 and 90.8.
The long and lanky Durant is the far more efficient scorer compared to Anthony. Durant has played in 13 more games, yet has taken eight fewer total shots than Anthony (1,322 to 1,330) — about four fewer attempts per game — and has made 78 more (668 to 590).
Anthony’s 44.4 percent overall shooting this season is a notch below his career average (45.5 percent), but his 37.8 percent from 3-point range would tie for the second-highest mark of his career.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A healthy civil discourse and creative storytelling are staples of our operation here at the Hang Time Podcast. We make it a point to do as much of both on a weekly basis, whether there are live microphones involved or not.
Solving mysteries, however, is a little something new. And we tackle two huge head-scratchers on Episode 103 of the Hang Time Podcast, featuring special guests Kevin Harlan of TNT and Brent Barry of NBA TV.
Harlan was in New Orleans working as a radio play-by-play man for the Super Bowl and there were rumblings (we blamed it on Reggie Miller and Steve Kerr, but the truth is yet another mystery for someone to solve) when the lights went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Barry, an old friend of the program and a longtime HT Fave, did his best to help us solve the mystery that is Dwight Howard, whose playing days with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers haven’t come closet to anyone’s expectations from a group that was expected to contend for a championship this season.
These, are just two of the many issues discussed on Episode 103 of the Hang Time Podcast, a must-listen if you’re interested all in finally getting some answers to those nagging questions that have been bothering you.
The Hall of Fame has discussed inviting Mel Daniels to the 2013 enshrinement ceremony for an overdue public salute after illness forced the former Pacers star to miss his induction as part of the Class of 2012.
Officials at the Springfield, Mass., basketball museum have considered the classy move in light of Daniels being kept from his planned celebration in September by a urinary tract infection. His wife accepted the award on his behalf, and another former Indiana great, Reggie Miller, also spoke of Daniels during his own enshrinement speech, noting their close friendship by referring to Daniels as “Uncle Mel.”
“It was kind of a mixed bag,” Daniels said of watching the ceremony on television. “I understood the situation. There was nothing I could do. I felt I disappointed a lot of people by not being there. But I felt really good about going in.”
Daniels would not be enshrined again. More likely, he would be included in the 2013 program for a belated introduction and round of applause in recognition of his ABA days, an area of the history of the game Hall officials have tried to spotlight the last two years.
Daniels said he would “most certainly” go if invited, but preferred all the attention next year go the that group of inductees.
“I think it should be someone else’s turn,” he said. “It’s a nice thought (to possibly be invited back). I appreciate the gesture. But I think I had my moment.”
Except that he didn’t really, and now the Hall may do something about it.
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – This day, this moment, belongs to Reggie Miller.
This is his night in the Hall of Fame spotlight. But in addition to family, friends and former teammates, coaches and fans who will all share in his special moment.
That group includes his colleagues at TNT, who shared some of their own thoughts about Miller …
“Reggie will go down as one of the greatest shooters of all time. But you can’t mention Reggie’s name and not think of the legendary comeback against the Knicks.”
“Reggie is a friend of mine and I’m very happy for him. It’s an awesome accomplishment and it’s going to be a wonderful night for him and his sister.”
“I loved watching Reggie play because for 48 minutes he gave you everything he had, and he possessed all those qualities that encompass being a superstar in this league: worth ethic, court sense, will to win, loyalty, charisma, killer instinct, ability to perform in the clutch … the list goes on and on. Like all the greats, Reggie wanted the ball in his hands with the game hanging in the balance and time and again he would deliver. His night in Springfield is richly deserved, and we’re all richer for having watched such a talent for all those years in the Pacers uniform.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – For a man whose name is synonymous with a franchise, city and state, it should come as no surprise that there are rumblings about Reggie Miller one day returning to help run the Indiana Pacers.
Miller’s headed to Springfield for a glorious weekend that will include his being enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. But there will be no shortage of chatter about the TNT analyst’s future and whether or not it might one day include a return to Indianapolis and the Pacers.
There couldn’t be a more a natural fit, from this perspective.
Miller embodies everything the Pacers stood for during the height of the franchise’s NBA glory years. His return would be more than just symbolic, though, as Miller has proved himself to be not only an ambassador for the Pacers, Indiana and the game itself, but also an astute observer of the global growth of the game over the past three decades.
“I never close any doors,” Miller said. “I listen to everything. (Owner) Herb Simon and I have had this conversation before. So yes, if something presented itself, I would definitely look at it and go from there.”
The Pacers have been led by either Donnie Walsh or Larry Bird for nearly the past 30 years.
Walsh returned for his second stint with the organization, replacing Bird as president, in June. Bird is taking at least the next year off. The 71-year-old Walsh hasn’t put a timetable on how long he will remain in his current capacity.
“I’m always interested,” Simon said. “Reggie would be a wonderful person to have in this franchise.”
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With all due respect to Warriors coach Mark Jackson and his view of basketball history, we have to pick a bit of a fight with him about the subjectivity of his ranking of the NBA’s greatest shooting guards.
“When you take Michael Jordan and you take Kobe Bryant out of the discussion, he’s as good as any two-guard that has ever played the game.”
While I was lucky enough to witness some of Miller’s best years with the Pacers and have a deep appreciation for what it takes to play at the level he did for so long, I’m not sure I can abide by Jackson’s assessment when presented with the long list of distinguished shooting guards that have graced the game.
Let’s see … (and these names are no particular order) George Gervin, Jerry West, Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Clyde Drexler, Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, Ray Allen, Joe Dumars and “Pistol” Pete Maravich are names that certainly come to mind when the discussion turns to the top shooting guards of all time.
Miller is no doubt an all-time great and everything you’d ever want in a Hall of Famer.
HANG TIME WEST – The Hall of Fame on Tuesday announced a star-studded group of presenters for the induction ceremony next Friday night in Springfield, Mass., a list headed by Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson that is powerful enough to overshadow most of the actual inductees.
Their role is strictly ceremonial, nothing more than standing on stage as the enshrinees speak. And some choices are assigned for a person or team without a personal connection to a current Hall of Famer, as the rules require. But some in the past have been interesting selections – Jordan requesting David Thompson despite not having any relationship, Karl Malone choosing Willis Reed against the same backdrop, both in nods to home-state heroes – and the presenters this time are noteworthy for the number of all-time greats.
The complete list of enshinees and their presenters:
All America Redheads — Teresa Edwards.
Lidia Alexeeva – Will not be present.
The late Don Barksdale – Bob Cousy.
Mel Daniels – Wayne Embry and Artis Gilmore.
Phil Knight – Jordan and John Thompson.
Katrina McClain – Edwards, Julius Erving, and C. Vivian Stringer.
Hank Nichols – Hubie Brown.
Don Nelson – Chris Mullin, Bob Lanier and Satch Sanders.
Reggie Miller – Cheryl Miller, Charles Barkley and Johnson.
Ralph Sampson – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Erving, and Barkley.
Chet Walker – Billy Cunningham, Earl Monroe, Adrian Dantley and Isiah Thomas.
Jamaal Wilkes – Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, Rick Barry and Bill Walton.
In all, officials are expecting approximately 50 Hall of Famers to attend, either as participants or to watch and join in private functions.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Something told me not to turn away, not to go to sleep on the final game of wild and crazy opening weekend of the NBA playoffs.
Even when the Grizzlies lead reached 27 points and the crowd was losing its collective mind at the sight of the home team roasting the Los Angeles Clippers, my basketball conscience wouldn’t let me turn the channel.
For the longest time it was like watching one of those Animal Planet specials where the water buffalo are trying to cross the river and the crocodiles keep snatching them and dragging them under water. You want to stop watching … but you can’t.
But this time, the water buffalo turned the tables at the end.
I’ll never go to sleep early on these games again. Not after what the Clippers did last night, staging an epic comeback and finishing the game on a 28-3 run, sparked by a Reggie Evans layup with 7:54 to play, to shock Memphis and the Grizzlies with a 99-98 Game 1 win.
I’d have never believed it if I hadn’t watched it for myself. And it’s always fun witnessing history, even if it comes at the expense of our beloved Hang Time Grizzlies.
Speaking of history, the Clippers had some on their side this season. Fifteen times they won games after trailing by 10 or more points, per Elias Sports. But down 27 in the Grind House … when the Grizzlies had it working in ever way imaginable, including my main man Zach Randolph doing push ups … and with Chris Paul struggling with that groin injury … Caron Butler in a suit after breaking his hand … and Blake Griffin just struggling in his playoff debut … there was no way this was happening.
Oh, but it did.
Paul came through as he almost always does at winning time, dishing out seven assists in the fourth quarter alone. Nick Young nailed those three monster 3-pointers Reggie Miller-style (all in one minute) and the Clippers flipped the script in the toughness department, out-rebounding the Grizzlies 16-4.
When Kenyon Martin stuck that hand in Rudy Gay‘s face to bother that last shot, there were no miracles left in the building. The Grizzlies’ nine-minute scoring drought was just as startling as the comeback.