After his stinkiest showing in a month, Indiana's Jalen Rose rediscovered the sweet smell of success.
The 27-year-old forward scored 32 points here Friday to lead Indiana past Los Angeles 120-87, trimming the Lakers' lead in the best-of-seven National Basketball Association Finals to 3-2 with game six Monday in California.
After making only 5-of-16 shots in a game four loss, Rose responded with 12-of-18 shooting from the field and made 4-of-5 3-point attempts, his best percentage of the playoffs.
"I was very determined to come out and play my game," Rose said. "You're disappointed any time you don't play the way you are capable of. Any time you are down 1-3, you have to come out and let your game be shown. You can't leave anything in the tank. If you do, the season is over."
Rose sank 9-of-12 from the field and his first four 3-point shots in a 22-point first half, sparking the Pacers to a 64-45 halftime edge. The Lakers never came within 13 in the second half.
"We anticipated Jalen was going to respond. Not quite like this, but respond," Lakers coach Phil Jackson told AFP, adding that "he had some first half against us. We couldn't find a way to stop him."
Rose also helped trigger Reggie Miller, Indiana's other veteran long-range sharpshooter. Miller had 25 points and hit 4-of-6 3-pointers.
"We just feed off them and get involved to support whatever they do," Pacer forward Sam Perkins said. "We were all in sync."
"Any time both of those guys, Reggie and Jalen, are having big nights at the same time, it makes it almost impossible to guard them," Pacer reserve Austin Croshere told the agency. "You can't double-team either one or the other is going to be open. They did a great job feeding off each other."
Rose poses a particular defensive problem because he is tall enough to get into position for inside shots and skilled enough handling the ball to shoot from long range.
"The guy has long arms, hand to the basketball, post-up, shoot 3s -- he's a tough match up," AFP qouted Lakers guard Kobe Bryant . "He's just a challenge for us to guard."
"Jalen is tough for anybody," Indiana guard Mark Jackson said. "He's a guy that can handle the ball, that is strong, a slasher. Put a bigger guy on him or a smaller guy on him and he's going to have an advantage one way or another. When he gets it going he's extremely tough."
Indiana coach Larry Bird was especially pleased at the way Rose adapted his game after a hot-shooting first half, using his threat to open opportunities for teammates and handle the Lakers' defensive alterations.
"I liked the way he was scoring early and in the second half was unselfish, making plays for people, moving the ball. And his defense was excellent," Bird said. "He keeps getting the defense off balance. When he is hitting his shots, it's almost impossible to stop him.
Earlier, Albawaba.com interviewed Sun's star and playmaker who expected Lakers to win the title for this year– Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)