All December long the Back Home Again staff will be recounting the Top 25 Reggie Miller Moments of all-time as part of our “25 Days of Reggie.” The countdown will serve as a great way to get geared up for the start of the 2011 NBA season (and Christmas) as we remember and honor one of the NBA’s most clutch performers and the Indiana Pacers’ greatest player ever.
November 28, 1992: Actually first lets go back to November 28, 1972: Indiana Pacer all-time great George McGinnis scored 58 points against the Dallas Chaparrals setting an ABA franchise record. Twenty years later to the exact day, Reggie Miller scored 57 points against the Charlotte Hornets setting the Pacer’s NBA franchise record. The game can be seen in its entirety here. (If you’re wondering, yeah I watched the whole thing. Great use of my time during final exam week.)
In 1992 Reggie Miller was beginning his sixth season with the Pacers. Although Reggie had lead the team in scoring over the previous couple years, it was not until the 1992 season that he was considered the team’s best player. Chuck Person was traded in the offseason for Sam Mitchell and Pooh Richardson, and Miller became the top dog on the roster. Prior to this game against the Hornets, Miller’s play had been inconsistent. He had lead the team to a 5-6 record and was beginning to hear the criticism associated with being “the guy” on a struggling squad.
Before the game against Charlotte, the players held a two-hour team meeting in which they advised Reggie to shoot more. From the looks of things, young Reggie heeded their advice. Reggie scored his all-time career high 57 points on 16-29 shooting from the field and 21-23 free throw shooting. The Pacers ended up beating the Hornets 134-122 in a contest that was more of a track meet than a basketball game. It was actually incredibly entertaining. A young and mustached Clark Kellogg likened the game to a tennis match, “Back and forth.” One team would sprint down the court and hit a jumper, and then the other team would come back and do the same within like 3 seconds. The first half was just ridiculous. I can hardly remember either team missing any shots. The score at the half was 76-70 with both teams shooting at almost 60% (the Hornets shot an ungodly 67% in the first quarter – man Dell Curry had a sweet stroke).
Reggie started the game with a pedestrian 7 points in the first quarter. There’s no way you could have watched that quarter and thought, “Holy Wilt Chamberlain, I think Reggie’s about to score 60!” He airballed his first shot, missed his first free throw, and didn’t connect on a field goal until the 6:00 mark.
If you’ve read anything about this game, the commentary always revolves around Reggie’s extraordinary second and third quarter performances. What they never mention though is that Reginald didn’t check into the second quarter until there was 6:48 left in the half! He then went ballistic scoring 20 points in basically half a quarter before the break. If you blinked, you probably missed it. He then matched his sensational second quarter with an equally absurd third scoring 23 more. It was during the third quarter that you could visible see Reggie catching fire. He made everything. He hit a 3 in the corner right in front of the Hornet’s bench and then turned around and just glared at them (Classic Reggie). He drew a flagrant foul from J.R. Reid with a blatant flop (Classic Reggie). At one point he again looked over to the Charlotte bench and said, “I’m going for 50.” Early in the fourth quarter, Hornets coach Allan Bristow was called for a technical foul. Apparently he was complaining about Reggie getting away with pushing off all game (Classic Reggie). Reggie burned every guy the Hornets threw at him (David Wingate, Dell Curry, Kevin Lynch, Tony Bennett, it didn’t matter).
One thing that struck me as strange about this performance was the lack of three pointers Reggie made on his way to 57. He only made four and didn’t really attempt many overall. Most of his points came from driving towards the tin and getting fouled or getting layups in transition. This was what young Reggie did I guess before the three point shot became insanely popular in the league. The Reggie I remember watching (older Reggie) was all about chuckin it up from deep (I wonder if Ray Allen would still have the 3 point record if he played back in the late 80s/early 90s). No matter how he did it, it was certainly impressive. The 57 point performance topped the 54 pointer Michael Jordan posted in the same 1992-1993 season and was the largest output since Tom Chambers scored 60 in 1990.
Reggie wouldn’t truly become a household name until the 1994 playoffs, but this day certainly helped build his legend. Alright, enough with all this regular season game nonsense. The final 11 Miller Moments will all be about where Reggie really thrived – the playoffs. Stay tuned.
Email us your favorite Miller Moments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Interesting Game Notes: (I have to list these in order to justify the 2 hours spent watching the entire game)
– Detlef Schrempf was the Pacer’s second leading scorer with 25 points. Apparently it was his first start of the season. Hard to believe that cat was ever on the pine. He could really ball.
– Rookie center Alonzo Mourning was the Hornet’s leading scorer with 30 points including a 17 point third quarter. He also completely dominated/got inside Rik Smits’ head. Dell Curry pitched in 21 points off the bench, and Larry Johnson was a complete nonfactor (which brought me great joy).
– According to the telecast, Charlotte had lead the league in attendance for the previous three seasons. Very suprising seeing as the team had to eventual relocate to New Orleans in 2002.
– Pooh Richardson recorded a triple double with 14 points, 11 assists, and a team high 10 rebounds. I wish I was around back then so I could have yelled “Pooooooooooooooooooh!” from the stands.
– Watching Rik Smits (7’4) stand next to Muggsy Bogues (5’3) is fairly hilarious. Sigh, sometimes I really miss the 90s.