Clutch basketball performances

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reggie Miller in 1995 Since we are in the midst of March Madness and NCAA bracketology, I was talking to my dad about some of the best end-of-game finishes we’ve seen at the NBA and college level.

In terms of sheer impossibility, there is one particular Reggie Miller playoff game that we always seem to end up talking about, where Miller single-handedly turned a six-point deficit into a two-point victory over the New York Knicks in a matter of seconds.

I found a description of that game on Wikipedia:

On May 7, 1995, Miller scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Knicks, leading the Pacers to a stunning 107-105 victory. With 16.4 seconds remaining and the Pacers trailing by six points, Miller made a three-point shot, stole the inbounds pass, retreated to the three-point arc and tied the game with a second three-pointer. On the ensuing possession, Knicks guard John Starks was fouled by Pacer Derrick McKey but missed two free throws; Miller rebounded the second miss and was fouled. Miller made both free throws, and the Pacers’ defense denied the Knicks’ last chance for the win. The Pacers outlasted the Knicks in a seven-game series before losing to the Orlando Magic in the conference finals.

There are, of course, a number of videos of the end of this game on YouTube; here are two: Reggie Miller vs. Knicks, Reggie Miller Ultimate Collection.

OK, so this post has almost nothing to do with the current men’s NCAA tournament, but that Reggie Miller game is a sports memory worth mentioning. This year’s men’s NCAA tournament has had a disappointing lack of upsets.

However, today in the women’s NCAA tournament, the top-ranked Duke women were upset by Rutgers 53-52. Duke missed two free throws with 0.1 left on the clock, which is pretty much the opposite of “clutch.”

And in the Division II men’s final, Barton ended Winona State’s 57-game winning streak with a buzzer-beating layup. Trailing by seven points with 45.6 seconds left, Barton’s Anthony Atkinson outscored the Warriors 10-1, including the final layup, to end the game and give the Bulldogs the title. That was very Milleresque.

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