It's Miller's last time

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Reggie Miller departed Canada for the final time last night, taking home an Inuit sculpture, a team-high 19 points and heartfelt tributes from the Raptors.

The Indiana Pacers guard will soon cap a Hall of Fame career, passing Jerry West last night for 12th place in NBA scoring (25,201), though ex-teammate and Raptors coach Sam Mitchell can't believe the 39-year-old Miller's 18-year run is up.

"I still feel Reggie could play two more years," Mitchell said. "I still feel he's one of the top two guards in the Eastern Conference. I don't care what anyone says.

TOOK A BEATING

"For a guy his size, people always questioned Reggie's toughness, but I saw first-hand night in and night out, this guy took a beating. I've seen him play with severely sprained ankles that I've never seen anyone else play with."

But Miller has no regrets about leaving now, even though he'll retire without an NBA title.

"It's time to go," Miller said after the Pacers beat the Raptors 94-90 last night. "It's unfair to the organization with all these young players to go another year or two when they're ready."

He did pay tribute to Toronto, a franchise that wasn't even on the NBA map when Miller broke in.

"(The pre-game ceremony) was very nice," he said. "We've had a lot of good games games up here, the Pacers and myself. For the fans to come out with a lot of the signs and the jerseys, it was very appreciative from my end. It's always been a class organization."

The Raptors' Jalen Rose spent 51/2 seasons with Miller, a stint that included the Pacers' 2000 playoff drive that ended two wins shy of a title against the Lakers.

"I remember standing in the locker room after we lost Game 6 to L.A. (Lakers)," Rose said. "He was talking about getting to that level again. It's unfortunate he played for so many years and hasn't got (back) to that point.

"He's the best three-point shooter in the history of the game. He made as many clutch shots as anyone."

Miller might have been just as comfortable playing in a city such as Toronto, having thrived in the smaller basketball market of Indiana for so long.

"If you're in New York a long time, just like everything else, you might get watered down," Rose said.

"But New York helped him be a great player just in the three or four times (a year) he went there."

Raptors' guard Morris Peterson grew up a Miller fan watching the Pacers from neighbouring Michigan.

"I always wanted to shoot like him," Peterson said.

"It's hard to keep up with him. Even at his age, he still gives guys problems."


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