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Miller leads Indy with 21; Spurs lose third straight

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Reggie Miller is still scoring points and
setting standards. All he wants now are wins.

Miller continued his late-season resurgence Wednesday night,
scoring 21 points and becoming the 13th player in league history to
top 25,000 career points as he led the short-handed Pacers past San
Antonio 100-93.

"It's a nice accomplishment, obviously, to do it in front of
the home crowd," Miller said. "But more importantly, it keeps us
in the playoff hunt."

The victory helped Indiana stay ahead of Philadelphia, Orlando
and New Jersey -- all of whom are battling for the final two playoff
spots in the Eastern Conference.

But Miller, who is retiring after this season, has seemingly
turned back the clock since All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal went
down with a sprained right shoulder March 3. Again, he's become a
major scorer, a key leader and Wednesday, he also got some help.

Austin Croshere scored 18 points and had four rebounds in his
second straight start. Miller and Croshere carried the Pacers
(34-33) during the first half when San Antonio stayed close, and
Stephen Jackson scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half when
the Pacers pulled away. Anthony Johnson also had 18 points, and
Jeff Foster finished with 15 rebounds.

It was the kind of performance the Pacers needed with three
players missing from the lineup -- O'Neal (shoulder), Jamaal Tinsley
(foot) and Fred Jones who was sick.

San Antonio (50-18) lost its third straight for the first time
this season despite having five players reach double figures. The
Spurs were led by Brent Barry with 17 points but clearly missed Tim
Duncan who is out with a sprained right ankle.

"It seems like San Antonio goes without Tim Duncan and they're
a little bit lost," Croshere said. "We've been missing guys all
year. We wouldn't know what to do if we had everybody."

For the Spurs, it was an uncharacteristically poor defensive
effort. They entered the game allowing a league-low 86.9 points per
game.

But the Pacers changed the equation.

Indiana, which had struggled inside during the last 12 games,
outscored San Antonio 34-28 in the paint and held a 44-32
rebounding advantage, while Miller provided the outside threat.

San Antonio had no answers.

"We just have to play hard all the time," Spurs guard Manu
Ginobili said after finishing with 11 points. "Right now, we're
just not playing well."

Miller certainly played at the top of his game. He hit 6 of 13
shots, made all eight of his free throws and even electrified the
crowd with a 3-pointer.

He also ignited a 12-3 first quarter run that gave the Pacers a
20-19 lead, and he helped Indiana extend the margin to 31-25 lead
with a flurry that included two free throws with 2:08 left. That
gave Miller point No. 25,000. He finished the game with 25,013 and
is now chasing Jerry West (25,192) for 12th on the all-time scoring
list.

When the achievement was announced fans chanted "Reg-gie,
Reg-gie."

"It's a nice accomplishment, obviously," He said. "There was
a lot of hard work, not only from myself, but I had a lot of
teammates along the way that were willing to sacrifice."

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich had seen enough as he hoped this was
the last time his team would have to defend Miller.

"Thank God, thank God," he said. "Selfishly, I hope he loves
the retirement and stays there."

While Miller took care of the outside, Croshere delivered
inside.

He scored 13 points in the first half when the Pacers built a
49-44 halftime lead, then helped spark a 16-5 third-quarter run in
which Johnson hit two 3-pointers. Miller's 15-foot runner ended the
spurt as Indiana took a 77-60 lead.

San Antonio answered with seven straight points, but James Jones
beat the third-quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer to make it 80-67,
and the Pacers put the game away early in the fourth quarter.

The Spurs cut the lead to 100-93 in the closing seconds but
never seriously challenged again.

"We had a good understanding of what we had to do to beat
them," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "The same guys came up
big that have been coming up big. Austin was solid, Reggie hit some
big shots and Anthony Johnson really orchestrated our team."

Game notes
Coach Rick Carlisle said Jones either had the stomach flu
or food poisoning. ... San Antonio played without guard Devin Brown
(back spasms). ... Since joining the NBA, the two former ABA rivals
are now tied 33-33 in the all-time series. ... San Antonio came
into the game averaging 43.2 points in the paint.