Reggie Miller spotting up at the elbow of the three-point line. Patrick Ewing standing still at the foul line.
In the past, you couldn't ask for a better recipe for an Indiana victory.
This time, though, history didn't repeat itself in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Ewing calmly made four straight free throws over the final 51 seconds and Miller missed a three-pointer from his favorite spot with 15 seconds left today as the New York Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers, 93-90.
"Reggie has killed us so many times by hitting the big threes, and we started trapping him," Ewing said. "If someone was going to beat us, it was going to have to be someone else."
As they did in the first round against Miami and the second round against Atlanta, the Knicks wrested home-court advantage away from their opponent in the first game of the series. Game 2 is Tuesday night at Market Square Arena.
In a physical, back-and-forth game, Miller had a chance to put the Pacers ahead when he freed himself along the baseline and got open at the three-point line with 15 seconds left -- the same spot from which he hit two big three-pointers in the 1995 playoffs and another Knicks-killing three-pointer in Game 3 of the second round last year.
"Well, he didn't hit it today," New York's Latrell Sprewell said.
The Knicks rebounded and went ahead 92-88 on two free throws by Chris Childs with 12.4 seconds left. Indiana had one more chance to tie after Childs made only 1 of 2 from the line with 6.5 seconds left, but Mark Jackson, his foot close to the three-point line, shot an airball from the corner just before the final buzzer.
It was the team-record sixth straight playoff win for the Knicks, who got 19 points from Allan Houston, and 16 each from Ewing and Sprewell. It was their fourth straight postseason road win.
Miller had 19 points to lead the Pacers, who trailed for much of the game as Rik Smits (4 for 12), Jackson (1 for 8) and Jalen Rose (4 for 12) had trouble getting untracked offensively.
The Pacers finished 3 for 9 from three-point range.
"For the most part we guarded the three-point line well, which is critical for us," Knicks Coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
Both Van Gundy and Pacers Coach Larry Bird employed some interesting defensive matchups. Van Gundy started 6-10 forward Kurt Thomas on the 7-4 Smits, while Bird used the 6-8 Miller to guard 6-11 Marcus Camby.
The Knicks tied their season low with just eight turnovers and went 9 for 10 from the foul line over the final 93 seconds. Four of those were by Ewing, whose career has included numerous free throw misses in the closing moments of tight games.
"Every miss has been chronicled," Van Gundy said, "and every make has been overlooked."
Said Miller: "He made big free throws. We tried to do everything to ice him out there, and he made all net.
"I think he's been getting a lot of unwarranted criticism in New York, He's been the backbone of that team for so many years, and it seems he's always proving the media and the crowd wrong there."
Indiana trailed throughout the fourth quarter until Smits hit a jump hook with 4 minutes 42 seconds left, just his second basket of the game, to tie it at 78. Miller hit a three-pointer 40 seconds later after the Knicks had gone back up by one.
Sprewell missed a jumper on the Knicks' next possession and argued that a foul should have been called, and Smits put in a jumper from 15 feet to make it 83-79. Childs answered with a three-pointer, but Smits made a turnaround and two free throws to bump the lead back to five, 87-82, before New York scored the next six points to go ahead 88-87.
Jackson tied the game by making 1 of 2 free throws with 31 seconds left, and Ewing put the Knicks up, 90-88, by swishing two in a row from the line with 29 seconds left.
That set the stage for Miller to put the Pacers ahead, but it wasn't to be.
CAPTION: Knicks' Chris Childs, who hit three free throws in the final seconds, beats Pacers' Travis Best to the ball.