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PACERS EVEN EAST SERIES WITH WIN OVER KNICKS

SHARE PACERS EVEN EAST SERIES WITH WIN OVER KNICKS

Reggie Miller had been strangely quiet during the Eastern Conference finals. On Monday, he waited until the fourth quarter to make most of his noise.

"That's the situation I love, with the game on the line and the ball in my hands," Miller said after scoring 13 of his 31 points in the final period as the Indiana Pacers evened the best-of-7 series 2-2 with an 83-77 victory over the New York Knicks. "If you're a competitor, that's the one you dream about."Miller, who denies he's the trash-talking player of his reputation, had 10 points and an assist during a decisive 12-2 spurt that turned a two-point deficit into an 80-72 lead with 2:20 left. The Knicks could have tied the score with a 3-pointer in the final seconds, but New York's 26th turnover ruined the chance.

But the Pacers still must win at New York's Madison Square Garden to advance to the NBA Finals for the first time, and their first of two chances comes Wednesday night in Game 5.

It's a daunting task for the Pacers because the Knicks, just 1-6 on the road in the playoffs, are 8-0 at home.

"I'm not concerned about losing on the road," Knicks coach Pat Riley said. "I concerned about winning the series. The most important game for us is the next game. We play with more confidence, more poise and more force at home."

The Pacers stayed perfect at Market Square Arena in six playoff home games. Indiana had won the first five at home by at least 10 points, and only a fourth-quarter rally by the Knicks made it close Monday.

Miller missed 11 shots from the field, but his 17-for-19 shooting from the free-throw line kept the scoring pressure on the Knicks, who made just 37.7 percent of their shots.

"It seemed like he was at the free-throw line all day," Riley said. "They did a good job of getting him open. He hit the open shots and got to the line."

Pacers coach Larry Brown said Miller, who averaged 17 points in the first three games, was uptight earlier in the series.

"Today he got so aggressive on offense that he loosened up," Brown said.

The Pacers led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter and 64-55 with 11:38 left before the Knicks rallied to take the lead, 72-70, with a 15-4 burst capped by Hubert Davis' 3-pointer with 6:19 left.

Then Miller took over with a tying jumper, a perfect pass to Rik Smits for a go-ahead basket, another jumper and then six straight free throws.

"We showed character," Brown said. "Early in the season, we might not have responded so well. We tried to go from 13 points ahead to 25 ahead, which we've done a lot in the playoffs. But we quit doing the things that got us the lead."

The Knicks closed to 80-77 with 30 seconds left on a layup by John Starks after a bad inbounds pass by Indiana, and they got the ball back when Derrick McKey missed two free throws two seconds later.

But Davis fumbled a pass out of bounds with 6.6 seconds left, ending the Knicks' final hope.

"It was a great pass," Davis said. "It just went through my hands."

"We failed to execute down the stretch," Riley said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do. We had some looks to make it close, but we have to be stronger with the ball."

Patrick Ewing, coming off a one-point performance in Game 3, scored 25 points and had 13 rebounds for the Knicks. Smits finished with 15 points for Indiana. Starks had 14 points and Charles Oakley 15 rebounds for New York.

"You have to give their defense credit," Ewing said. "They created a lot of turnovers. Everything can be fixed. We just have to come in more focused."

The Pacers, leading 42-39 at halftime, started the third quarter with a 16-6 run for a 58-45 lead with five minutes left. McKey had five points, Miller and Antonio Davis four each in the spurt.

The Knicks closed the gap to 62-55 at the end of the period as Davis had a 3-pointer, a steal and a free throw in the last 38 seconds.

Both teams shot under 43 percent in the first three games of the series, and they did nothing to improve their percentages in the opening half. New York made 12 of 38 shots (31.6 percent) and Indiana 15 of 39 (38.5 percent).

Ewing's layup with 8:43 left in the second period was the Knicks' first field goal in more than seven minutes, but the basket gave them a 24-23 lead. When Starks scored a minute later, it was only the third basket in 18 attempts by a New York player other than Ewing.

Miller's two free throws with 3:09 left gave Indiana a 36-35 edge, the 11th lead change of the second period. A tip-in by Kenny Williams and a free throw by Miller after a technical on Oakley put the Pacers ahead 39-35, matching the largest lead of the half by either team.