With the Indiana Pacers season on hold as the NBA sits suspended, we ponder the question of who had the greatest game in team history.
We’ve got nothing but time these days to debate Indiana Pacers history with the NBA season on suspension. This Pacers team has been blessed with plenty of great players over the years. From Reggie Miller to Jermaine O’Neal to Paul George to Victor Oladipo, the talent the Pacers have brought in throughout the course of the franchise’s history has been outstanding.
With so many great players and notable performances over the years coming from those players, it begs the question — Who had the greatest single-game performance of all-time?
For the purposes of our question today, we’ll focus on regular-season performances only, but there are many worthy playoff performances that take on an even greater meaning due to the high-stakes nature of those games.
It really comes down to two performances — A 57-point game from Reggie Miller and a 55-point game from Jermaine O’Neal, both of which were Pacers wins.
Reggie Miller (11-28-92, Hornets): 57 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists. FG: 55.2%, 3P: 4-11, FT: 21-23
Though this game looks vintage when you look back at the tape — from the grainy footage to no spectators on the immediate baseline floor, to the 90s aesthetic of the Charlotte Colesium’s teal and purple court, to the classic Pacers and pinstripe Hornets jerseys — the flow of the basketball itself was ever so modern.
Miller pushed the ball and scored off the break quite a bit in this game, and the Hornets, propelled by Muggsy Bogues‘ motor did the same. While the pace was modern, the shot selection wasn’t at times. Miller took and made a good amount of shots with his heel on the 3-point arc, making you wonder about how many points he might have scored had he played this game in the modern, 3-point-centric era with a different mindset.
Though this wasn’t his signature explosion of 8 points in 9 seconds (an event near and dear to our site for obvious reasons) this was by far Miller’s best regular-season game of all-time.
Context is important here. Offensive explosions for 40, 50, even 60 points are becoming more and more commonplace due to the emphasis on a faster pace, a higher volume of shots, and a larger percentage of shots beyond the arc. In this era, 50 points was really special.
Jermaine O’Neal (01-04-05, Bucks): 55 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks. FG: 64.3%, FT: 19-25
Jermaine O’Neal had everything he wanted in this game against the Bucks. This performance is the best one in Pacers history since the new millennium hit by far.
Going above 60 percent from the field he was forceful, yet precise. The Bucks attempts to stop him were either far too weak or not calculated enough, as O’Neal got to the line for 25 free-throws.
O’Neal looked as quick and athletic as possible during this matchup with the Bucks and this sticks out as one of the greatest performances in Pacers history, hence why it’s being mentioned as a top-two performance here.
Who had the greatest Indiana Pacers game in team history?
This is a tough call. As has been detailed here, both Jermaine O’Neal and Reggie Miller had truly ballistic performances.
Ever so slightly, Reggie Miller’s 57-point performance in 1992 edges out O’Neal’s 55-point performance in 2005 because of his near perfection at the line and 3-point shooting, but both games are worthy of debate.
Basketball-Reference’s “gamescore” agrees, Miller’s performance clocking in at 50.4 and O’Neal at 44.0.
Which one do you think was better?