By Ron Griffitts
In June 2000, the Indiana Pacers (56-28), playing in their only NBA final, and coached by Larry Bird with Donnie Walsh as the chief executive, met the Los Angeles Lakers (67-15) coached by Phil Jackson with Hall of Famer Jerry West as their chief executive officer.
After having sat out the 1999 season and having coached the Bulls to six NBA titles in eight years, Jackson signed with the Lakers and led them to the championship series.
The Pacers were led by Jalen Rose (18.2 ppg), Reggie Miller (18.1 ppg), Dale Davis (10.0 ppg, 9.9 rpg), Mark Jackson (8.0 apg), Rik Smits (12.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Austin Croshers (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg).
The Lakers were led by one of the most dominant players in the game in Shaquille O’ Neal (29.7 ppg, 13.6 rpg). Kobe Bryant (22.5 ppg, 4.9 apg, 6.3 rpg), Glen Rice (15.9 ppg) and veterans Ron Harper who had played for Jackson with the Bulls and A. C. Green (5.9 rpg) who was in his 15th NBA season and had played on earlier Laker championship teams helped lead the team.
Game one was at the Staples Center in LA and the Lakers got off to an early lead in the first quarter 33-18 and held on for a 104-87 win behind the dominant play of Shaquille O’Neal who had 43 points on 21 of 31 from the field and 19 rebounds. The Pacers’ Reggie Miller, on the other hand, was only 1 of 16 from the field as Mark Jackson led Indiana scorers with 18 points.
Game Two was closer as the teams were tied 28-28 after the first quarter but the Lakers still prevailed as Indiana could not find a way to contain Shaquille O’Neal, who finished with 40 points in a 111-104 Laker win. The strategy in that game was to make him make free throws and he was sent to the line for 39 attempts of which he made 18.
Jalen Rose led the Pacers with 30, Reggie Miller added 21 points and Dale Davis contributed 10 rebounds. Shaq also was dominate on the boards with 24 rebounds. Ron Harper and Glen Rice had 21 points each for the Lakers as they take a 2-0 lead in the series.
For game three the teams switched to Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis for the first NBA finals’ game held in Indianapolis. Reggie Miller had his best game of the series with 33 points and the Pacers got out to a 23-15 lead in the first quarter on the way to a 100-91 win.
Jalen Rose had 21 points and Dale Davis 12 rebounds while for LA, Shaq had a good but not great game with 33 points and 13 rebounds, but was only 3 of 13 from the free throw line as the series is 2-1 with the Lakers ahead.
Game four was the key game in the series as the teams battled to a 104-104 tie after regulation but the Lakers behind eight Kobe Bryant overtime points pulled out a 120-118 victory to go up three games to one in the series.
Sam Perkins sent it into overtime with a three pointer for the Pacers but in overtime Reggie Miller’s three pointer at the buzzer went off the back of the rim. Had the Pacers won that game the series would have been 2-2 and a very different situation for Indiana.
Shaq had 36 points and 21 rebounds and more important made 10 of 17 free throws while Kobe Bryant had 28 points. Reggie Miller had 35 and Rik Smits contributed 24 points for the Pacers.
The Pacers had their best game of the series in game five as they got out to a 39-28 first quarter lead and went on to a 120-87 win as they outrebounded the Lakers 46-34. Jalen Rose led with 32 points and Reggie Miller had 25 while Shaq had 35 points and 11 rebounds for LA and the series went to 3-2 in favor of the Lakers.
For game six, the teams moved back to the Staples Center and the Pacers led after three quarters 84-79 but LA went on 37-27 run in the fourth quarter led by Shaq’s 13 points and won the game and the series with a 116-111 victory.
Shaq again went over 40 points with 41 points as well as 12 rebounds while Kobe Bryant had 26 points as Phil Jackson earned his seventh NBA title in 10 years. For the Pacers, Jalen Rose had 29, Reggie’s Miller had 25 and Dale Davis had 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Shaquille O’ Neal got the finals’ MVP as he had more than 40 points or more in three of the finals’ games. The Lakers were back the next year in the finals while Indiana has not been back since 2000.
Statistics for this article were from basketball-reference.com and YouTube.com.
Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for The Daily Advocate.