1999–2000 Indiana Pacers season

The 1999–2000 NBA season was the Pacers' 24th season in the National Basketball Association, and 33rd season as a franchise. It was their first season playing at the Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers finished first place in the Central Division with a 56–26 record, highlighted by a franchise-best 25-game winning streak at home, which was worthy of the Eastern Conference first seed in the playoffs, guaranteed home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in franchise history, and an all-time franchise best win-loss record. Jalen Rose led the team with 18.2 points per game, and was named Most Improved Player of the Year. Reggie Miller and Dale Davis were both selected for the 2000 NBA All-Star Game in Oakland.

In the playoffs, the Pacers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the first round, and the Philadelphia 76ers in six games in the semifinals before preceding to defeat their arch-rivals, the New York Knicks in a tough, hard-fought six-game series in the Eastern Conference Finals en route to advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. However, the Pacers would lose in the Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers in six games.

Following the season, Larry Bird resigned as head coach, Davis was traded to the Portland Trail Blazers, Chris Mullin was released and later re-signed as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, Mark Jackson signed with the Toronto Raptors, and Rik Smits retired after playing 12 years in the NBA with the Pacers.

Offseason

NBA Draft

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Roster

Roster listing
Indiana Pacers roster
PlayersCoaches
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
SF24Bender, Jonathan6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)202 lb (92 kg)Picayune Memorial HS (MS)
PG4Best, Travis5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)182 lb (83 kg)Georgia Tech
PF44Croshere, Austin6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)235 lb (107 kg)Providence
C32Davis, Dale6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)230 lb (104 kg)Clemson
C10Foster, Jeff Injured6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)236 lb (107 kg)Texas State
PF3Harrington, Al Injured6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)230 lb (104 kg)St. Patrick HS (NJ)
PG13Jackson, Mark6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)180 lb (82 kg)St. John's
SF9McKey, Derrick6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)205 lb (93 kg)Alabama
SG31Miller, Reggie6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)185 lb (84 kg)UCLA
SG17Mullin, Chris6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)200 lb (91 kg)St. John's
PF14Perkins, Sam6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)235 lb (107 kg)North Carolina
SF5Rose, Jalen6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)210 lb (95 kg)Michigan
C45Smits, Rik7 ft 4 in (2.24 m)250 lb (113 kg)Marist
C55Tabak, Žan7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)245 lb (111 kg)Croatia
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured Injured

Roster
Last transaction: 1999-10-31

Regular season

The Pacers began a new era by moving into Conseco Fieldhouse after 25 years at Market Square Arena. They would start the season with a 7-7 record but finished with a 56-26 record, good enough to win their 2nd straight division title. The Pacers even won 25 straight games at their new arena.

Season standings

Record vs. opponents

Game log

Regular season

1999–2000 game log
Total: 56–26 (Home: 36–5; Road: 20–21)
1999–00 schedule

Playoffs

2000 playoff game log
2000 schedule

Playoffs

In the first round of the playoffs, the top-seeded Pacers went to five games against the Milwaukee Bucks. In the second round, the Pacers would beat the Philadelphia 76ers in 6 games. This would lead to a rematch with the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers took Game 5 at home to take a 3-2 series lead. The Pacers would clinch the series in 6 games as Reggie Miller scored 34 points. The Pacers reached the NBA Finals but found themselves outmatched by a Los Angeles Lakers team that had Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. The Lakers won the NBA Finals in 6 games. Following the season, Head Coach Larry Bird would step down, citing the daily grind of coaching.

East First Round

(1) Indiana Pacers vs. (8) Milwaukee Bucks Last Playoff Meeting: 1999 Eastern Conference First Round (Indiana won 3-2)

East Semifinals

(1) Indiana Pacers vs. (5) Philadelphia 76ers Last Playoff Meeting: 1999 Eastern Conference Semifinals (Indiana won 4-2)

Eastern Conference Finals

(1) Indiana Pacers vs. (3) New York Knicks Last Playoff Meeting: 1999 Eastern Conference Finals (New York won 4-2)

NBA Finals

  • Lakers' backup center John Salley became the first player in NBA history to play on three different championship-winning franchises, as he won titles in 1989 and '90 with the Detroit Pistons and 1996 with the Chicago Bulls.
  • This was the Lakers first NBA Finals in the new Staples Center.
  • After closing out game 6, fans rioted outside Staples Center by making bonfires, tipping cars, breaking windows of cars and buildings, and vandalizing businesses around the area. Overall, they caused $1 million in damages. In Lakers' championship run the following year, the LAPD came out in bigger force after the Lakers won and prevented the same thing from happening again.
  • Staples Center, which was a first-year building in 2000, had a very tricky shooting background and opposing teams often had difficulty shooting there. Pacers coach Larry Bird wanted to have a shoot-around in the arena the day before Game 6 to help his team shoot more consistently because they shot very poorly in Games 1 and 2. However, the Pacers couldn't practice in the building because of an Arena Football game. Bird was very upset about this, and his team had to go down to the Lakers practice facility in El Segundo.
  • The two arenas in this series, Conseco Fieldhouse and Staples Center, were both first-year arenas.

Summary

The following scoring summary is written in a line score format, except that the quarter numbers are replaced by game numbers.

TeamGame 1Game 2Game 3Game 4*Game 5Game 6Wins
Los Angeles (West)10411191120871164
Indiana (East)871041001181201112

Aspects

Although the Lakers were one of the more talented teams in the NBA the previous year, they failed to win a single game against the San Antonio Spurs in the 1999 NBA playoffs. Twenty-four days after being swept by the eventual league champion, the Lakers signed Phil Jackson as head coach. Jackson, famous for coaching Michael Jordan and the six-time champion Chicago Bulls, would build his triangle offense around Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. General Manager Jerry West surrounded O'Neal and Bryant with effective role players such as Glen Rice, Ron Harper (who had experience with Jackson's triangle offense as part of the '96–'98 Bulls), and A. C. Green (member of the last two Lakers championship teams).

Along with these starters, the Lakers also possessed a strong bench. Robert Horry not only had championship experience with the Houston Rockets but also was a threat on the perimeter and a defensive star. Derek Fisher was a defensively minded point-guard with the ability to shoot well from long range. Rick Fox, acquired after being released by the Boston Celtics, was the Lakers' sixth man. With a healthy O'Neal, the Lakers dominated the regular season, with winning streaks of 11, 16, and 19 en route to a 67–15 record, tying the 1992 Chicago Bulls and 1986 Boston Celtics as the fifth best record in NBA regular season history.

Although many expected the Lakers to reach the Finals, the road would be a rocky one. In the first round, the Lakers won the first two games against the Sacramento Kings, only to drop the next two games in Sacramento. The Lakers then defeated Sacramento in Game 5, 113–86, to face the Phoenix Suns in the conference semifinals. The Lakers clobbered the Suns, winning the series 4–1 (with their only loss coming in Game 4). In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers, Rasheed Wallace earned two technical fouls and was ejected; the Lakers took advantage of Wallace's absence and secured victory. The Trail Blazers stormed back in the next game, giving the Lakers their worst home loss of the season in a 106–77 shellacking. This setback did not affect Los Angeles, as they assembled a 3–1 series lead by winning the next two games in Portland. The Lakers underestimated the Trail Blazers, however. Led by former Jackson linchpin Scottie Pippen, Portland won back-to-back elimination games and forced a series-deciding Game 7. Amid several controversial foul calls by referee Dick Bavetta against members of the Trail Blazers, Portland relinquished a 75–60 fourth quarter lead. Rallying back with a 25–4 run, the Lakers won the game and secured a berth in the NBA Finals.

In the 1997–1998 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls narrowly defeated the Pacers, 4 games to 3, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The 1998–1999 NBA season began with a lockout but saw Indiana return to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they fell to the New York Knicks. The 1999–2000 NBA season brought several major changes to the Pacers. It was their first season at Conseco Fieldhouse, as well as their first since 1993 without center Antonio Davis, who was traded for the rights to the No. 5 overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. Jalen Rose replaced Chris Mullin in the starting line up, winning the NBA Most Improved Player award, while Austin Croshere replaced him as the sixth man.

The Pacers started the season 7–7 but eventually finished with an Eastern Conference best 56–26 record, including a franchise-best 25 game win streak at home. The Pacers, like the Lakers, struggled in the playoffs. They needed a clutch Travis Best three-pointer to dispatch the Milwaukee Bucks in five games. Indiana faced the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round and took the series in six games, earning a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers would face their rival Knicks, winning a memorable six game series in a reversal of fortunes from years past. With the victory, Indiana advanced to the first NBA Finals in franchise history, becoming the second former ABA team to do so.

Game 1

Wednesday, June 7, 2000, 9:00 at the Staples Center.

The Lakers dominated from the start. The Lakers shot 15-for-20 (75%) in the first period while the Pacers shot only 7-for-20 (35%). Miller would miss all of his shots in the first quarter to give the Lakers a 15-point lead. Croshere came off the bench to keep the Pacers alive in the 2nd quarter, scoring 9 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in the quarter. Although the Pacers attempted a comeback in the 2nd quarter, they were still down by 12. In the 3rd quarter, it would be Jackson who led the Pacers to a comeback, cutting the Lakers lead by 2. Miller also hit his first field goal in the 3rd quarter, though it would be his last. The Lakers handled the Pacers in the final quarter, with a 13–2 run winning by 17 points. O'Neal scored 43 points and grabbed 19 rebounds.

[1]

Team1st Qt.2nd Qt.3rd Qt.4th Qt.Total
Indiana1825281687
Los Angeles33222227104

Game 2

Friday, June 9, 2000, 9:00 at the Staples Center.

Los Angeles and Indiana were evenly matched for the first quarter, both scoring 28. However, Los Angeles suffered a major setback when Kobe Bryant left the game in the 2nd quarter due to a sprained ankle and did not return. Jalen Rose later admitted that he intentionally stuck out his foot when Kobe shot a jumpshot in order to trip him when he landed. Ron Harper went in for Bryant and scored 21 points for the game. Desperate to try to gain the lead, Larry Bird resorted to the "Hack-a-Shaq" strategy. Shaq shot 39 free throws, making only 18, an NBA record for most free throws attempted. Despite this low percentage, Shaq made 9 of 16 in the 4th quarter to keep a Lakers lead. The Pacers cut the lead to 99–96 and were looking to foul Shaq, but when Shaq got the ball he passed to Robert Horry who converted not only the layup, but the foul shot as well giving them a 102–96 lead en route to a 111–104 Lakers victory.

[2]

Team1st Qt.2nd Qt.3rd Qt.4th Qt.Total
Indiana28212035104
Los Angeles28242138111

Game 3

Sunday, June 11, 2000, 7:30 at the Conseco Fieldhouse.

Taking advantage of Kobe Bryant's ankle injury, Indiana restored a semblance of parity to the proceedings. Kobe's absence was felt as the Pacers had an 11–2 run in the first quarter to take an 8-point lead. Austin Croshere once again had another huge 2nd quarter, scoring 8 points as the Pacers shot 61% from the field. The Lakers tried to make a run to get back into the game, but upon doings so, Indiana answered with 12 straight points and led by 17. The Lakers were desperate and attempted another run to get within 3 points, but Reggie Miller nailed all his free throws at the end of the game to give Indiana a 9-point win.

[3]

Team1st Qt.2nd Qt.3rd Qt.4th Qt.Total
Los Angeles1527222591
Indiana23302621100

Game 4

Wednesday, June 14, 2000, 9:00 at the Conseco Fieldhouse.

The Pacers took a quick 9–2 lead due to Rik Smits hitting his first four shots. Kobe Bryant attempted to play with his sore ankle but only managed to score 6 points in the first half. Even though Bryant and O'Neal were in foul trouble in the first half (each picking up his third with 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter), Indiana could not take advantage and did not extend their lead. This would be a problem as Kobe Bryant scored 10 points and the Lakers took a 62–60 lead due to a Glen Rice three-pointer. The game remained close going into the fourth quarter, when O'Neal and Reggie Miller scored 14 and 13 points respectively, sending the game into overtime. Midway through overtime, O'Neal committed his sixth foul but 21-year-old Bryant delivered three clutch shots, as the Lakers were able to overcome back-up center John Salley's inability to effectively defend Smits. Smits and Miller scored all 14 of Indiana's OT points, but it was not enough to overcome as Miller missed a last-second three-pointer, and L.A. was able to pull one out in Indianapolis.

[4]

Team1st Qt.2nd Qt.3rd Qt.4th Qt.OTTotal
Los Angeles2328292416120
Indiana3321232714118

Game 5

Friday, June 16, 2000, 9:00 at the Conseco Fieldhouse.

Reggie Miller and the Pacers dominated the game from the start in what would be Larry Bird's last game as a coach in the state of Indiana. Reggie Miller came out and made 5 straight shots including a 4-point play. The Pacers hit their first 6 three point shots in the game. The Pacers would have a 20-point lead in the 2nd quarter, and eventually won by 33 – it was the worst Lakers NBA Finals loss since the 148–114 loss to Boston in the 1985 NBA Finals, known as the "Memorial Day Massacre."

With their loss in Game 5, the Lakers record in close-out games dropped to 3–6 in the 2000 NBA Playoffs (the other losses coming in Games 3 and 4 in the first round against Sacramento, Game 4 in the series against Phoenix, and Games 5 and 6 versus Portland). As a result, the series returned to California.

[5]

Team1st Qt.2nd Qt.3rd Qt.4th Qt.Total
Los Angeles2817222087
Indiana39252234120

Game 6

Monday, June 19, 2000, 9:00 at the Staples Center.

After the two teams traded blows in the first quarter, Mark Jackson concluded the period with a turn-around half-court shot at the buzzer to give the Pacers a 26–24 advantage. They would not relinquish their lead until the fourth quarter. In the first half, the Pacers would lead by as many as twelve points. However, the Lakers chipped away and entered intermission trailing 56–53. Indiana, however, added two more points to their lead, and entered the final period in a position to force a decisive seventh game.

In the fourth quarter, the momentum shifted. The Lakers got four timely three-pointers from Derek Fisher, Robert Horry, and Rick Fox. The turning point occurred on a play where Brian Shaw stole the ball from Jalen Rose, leading to a fast break where Shaquille O'Neal hit an off-balance shot to give the Lakers the lead. The Pacers never led after that point.

The Lakers would build a seven-point lead, but the Pacers fought back to tie the score at 103. After a timeout, the Lakers scored six unanswered points to regain control. The Pacers made one final valiant effort, but it fell short and the Lakers clinched their first championship in twelve years. Shaquille O'Neal led all scorers with 41 points and also pulled down 12 rebounds. He was awarded the Finals MVP.

[6]

Team1st Qt.2nd Qt.3rd Qt.4th Qt.Total
Indiana26302827111
Los Angeles24292637116

Awards, records, and honors

Uses material from the Wikipedia article 1999–2000 Indiana Pacers season, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.