NBA Suspends Rose; Miller Can Play
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Reggie Miller and Ron Harper escaped suspensions today for their scuffle late in the fourth quarter of Monday’s Bulls-Pacers playoff game, but Jalen Rose of Indiana was suspended one game for leaving the bench area.
Rose will be banned from the United Center when the series resumes Wednesday night, tied at two games apiece.
``I’m sincerely sorry Jalen was suspended since I thought that, while he was removed from the bench, he was (under the) control of our coaching staff and never entered the fray,″ Pacers president Donnie Walsh said.
``Additionally, I didn’t feel like either Reggie Miller or Ron Harper deserved suspensions for what occurred and the incident never really turned into an altercation. Neither team wanted a fight. It was just the emotion of the game,″ Walsh said.
Rose declined comment on his suspension.
Harper was fined $3,500 for initiating the fracas by yanking Miller into the Chicago bench area and shoving Miller.
Miller was fined $2,500 for retaliating and pushing Harper.
Chicago coach Phil Jackson was fined $10,000 for his comments about the officiating, including comparing the refereeing to the 1972 Olympic gold medal game in Munich when the United States lost to the Soviet Union.
By not suspending Miller or Harper, the league determined that neither threw a punch.
``There were no punches thrown,″ said Miller, one day after his 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left gave the Pacers a 96-94 victory over the Bulls. ``It was one of those things where everyone wanted to be macho, stick their chests forward, but nothing really happened. Typical NBA fight.″
The moment in dispute happened as the Pacers, trailing 94-93, were getting three chances to pull out the victory.
Jordan blocked a jumper by Derrick McKey with 6.4 seconds left, and Scottie Pippen then stole the ensuing inbounds pass after it was deflected by Harper.
A scuffle broke out after Harper yanked Miller by the arm, sending him tumbling into the Chicago bench. Replays appeared to show Miller throwing a punch as he got up.
No technical fouls were called after order was restored.
``They backed off, acted like they were afraid,″ Jackson said of the officials. ``It’s a technical foul, if not a punching foul, but they didn’t have the courage to make that call.″
``I think everyone saw Reggie become the aggressor, and no one was punished for it,″ Jordan said.
Rose left the Pacers’ bench area during the altercation and walked along the sideline toward midcourt before Indiana assistant coach Rick Carlisle pulled him back.
League rules mandate a one-game suspension for leaving the bench during an altercation.
Pacers coach Larry Bird claimed Rose was merely heading to the scorer’s table to check into the game.
``Jalen got a little excited and got down there too quick,″ Bird said today. ``The only punch I saw was Harper hitting Reggie in the back, which I wouldn’t even call a punch.″
Pippen went to the line with a chance to give the Bulls a three-point lead, but missed both free throws.
``Scottie, Michael and Dennis Rodman have been through a lot of wars, but pressure can get to anybody,″ Miller said. ``At that point in time, it got to Scottie.″
Indiana called its final timeout to inbound at halfcourt, and Miller circled around the top of the key, shoved Jordan away, then received the pass and turned to shoot. He let fly from a step behind the 3-point arc, and the shot hit nothing but net.
``The play was designed for him,″ Bird said, ``but I didn’t think he was going to be as wide open as he was.″
In a display of emotion similar to what followed his Game 3 heroics (three 3-pointers and 13 late points), Miller, still bothered by a sprained right ankle, jumped up and down and twirled as he headed back to the Indiana bench.
``I saw that Michael was trailing a bit,″ he said of the winning play. ``I stayed focused on the rim and my rhythm, and the rest is history.″
The Bulls still had another shot, though, and Jordan managed to get open about two steps behind the arc for the final shot. It kissed off the backboard, spun around the rim and fell out, sending Market Square Arena into pandemonium.
``I knew it was long, but I had an angle on the backboard,″ Jordan said. ``It was out of my hands once it left my hands.″
When the best-of-7 series resumes, the Bulls will be in an unfamiliar position. This will be the first time since 1993 that they have been tied 2-2 in the conference finals.
Game 6 is Friday night back in Indianapolis, and Game 7, if necessary, would be Sunday in Chicago.
``This makes Game 5 huge,″ Miller said. ``And we’ve been in every game there.″
Before leaving the arena, the Bulls let it be known that they felt they had been ripped off by several controversial calls and non-calls late in the game.
``There were so many debatable calls late in the game, but Reggie still had to make that shot,″ Jackson said.
``They had many, many opportunities they didn’t deserve in that ballgame. I don’t know if I’ll be able to watch the last 10 minutes of that game without calling (NBA vice president) Rod Thorn.″
Upon hearing Jackson’s comments, Miller was beside himself.
``You’ve got to understand, they get every benefit-of-the-doubt call. How could they say anything? I can’t believe they’re saying that,″ Miller said.
``We still have to win a game in Chicago,″ said Bird, who showed no reaction when Miller hit the 3. ``We still have to win two more. My guys realize that. It sure is going to give them confidence going to Chicago.″
Rik Smits led the Pacers with 26 points. Miller, who was listed as day-to-day after injuring his ankle Saturday, shot 5-for-11 for 15 points.
The Pacers made 11 3-pointers, and their reserves _ led by Travis Best with 10 points _ outscored Chicago’s 32-13.
Jordan led the Bulls with 28 points, although he scored only four in the fourth quarter. Pippen added 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and Rodman had 16 rebounds.
Notes: Jordan wore a bandage on his right eyelid after being cut by Smits’ finger in the first quarter. ... With this series 2-2, the NBA Finals will not start until a week from Wednesday. ... Kukoc was a last-minute replacement for Rodman in the starting lineup. He had 18 points on 8-for-10 shooting. ... Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever was at the game. ... Rodman somersaulted over NBC-TV’s courtside broadcasting table while trying to intercept a pass late in the first quarter. ... Chris Mullin of the Pacers missed his final eight shots. ... Indiana is the only team undefeated at home in the playoffs (7-0).