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Veterans keeping Pacers in contention

By DARRELL FRY, Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 18, 2000

LOS ANGELES -- Indiana, according to some predictions, was supposed to get swept by Los Angeles. But the Pacers are making a series out of it, trailing just 3-2.

Chalk it up to a wealth of veterans. All but one (Austin Croshere) of Indiana's main players has at least five seasons of experience, which the Pacers said helped them survive a deciding Game 5 against Milwaukee in the first round and hold off the Lakers' elimination plans in Game 5 on Friday.

"I think being a veteran team is the reason we are in this situation," Jalen Rose said. "It's the reason we were able to get through a couple of series, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, in particular.

"I think we are a team that's resilient. We understand how to play when we're behind and we always find a way to get big baskets. I felt we'd find a way to win (Friday) and then go from there."

Even though the odds are stacked against the Pacers, Reggie Miller vowed that Indiana will play loose in Game 6 on Monday.

"We absolutely, positively have nothing to lose and everything to gain. There's no pressure on us. All the pressure's on them," he said. "They were supposed to sweep us. We have nothing to hang our heads about."

DID YOU KNOW?: The Lakers were glad to get out of Indianapolis and back to the City of Angels, but not everyone disliked the city.

Shaquille O'Neal spent Thursday at an Indianapolis zoo as part of a segment for NBA Productions. Not only did he sign autographs, but he actually fed the baboons and threw a basketball to a sea lion.

"He's a zoo guy, apparently," a zoo representative told the Indianapolis Star. "He loves animals."

I'LL TAKE TWO LATTES, PLEASE: Games 3, 4 and 5 in Indianapolis were more physical than the first two in Los Angeles with tempers almost flaring. In Game 5, Lakers forward Rick Fox committed a flagrant foul, and two Pacers and two Lakers received technicals.

Miller had the quote of the day when he said the Lakers started it.

"Well, a lot of the scuffles are coming from them, which is a shock," he said. "Everyone thinks they're so nice and pretty and they're the glamour boys, it's Los Angeles, Evian, Cafe Latte, all that crap. They're doing the pushing, the holding, then they look at the refs like they're not doing anything."

STAT OF THE DAY: A lot was made last week about how Indiana plays so well at home. But the Pacers' league-leading 36-5 homecourt record during the regular season was tied with the Lakers' record at Staples Center.

Report: Carter likes UM

MIAMI -- Fired Raptors coach Butch Carter might be interested in applying for the vacant University of Miami job, the Toronto Star reported.

Carter has been watching the Hurricanes with more than a casual interest, as he is the father of recently graduated point guard Vernon Jennings.

Jennings learned of his father's identity when he was in ninth grade. Carter also is the brother of NFL receiver, Cris.

UM athletic director Paul Dee, who was unaware of Carter's connection with Jennings, said he would "do some research" on Carter, as he is doing with dozens of other potential candidates.

Carter said at a news conference he was "very interested" in coaching at the collegiate level.

KNICKS: Patrick Ewing had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee but is expected to be available for the start of training camp in October.

KINGS: Coach Rick Adelman objected to the juxtaposition of his picture with Adolf Hitler in a motivational video used by Lakers coach Phil Jackson, the Sacramento Bee reported.

"If he did that, that's crossing the line, I think," Adelman said. "I don't think I have as much control as Hitler did. I'm part German descent, and I don't think he's of the people I aspire to be compared to."

Jackson likes to splice together tape of his team juxtaposed with movies to motivate his team. He used the Adelman footage during their first-round series.

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