LOS ANGELES -- Shaquille O'Neal was extremely good. Reggie Miller was extremely bad.
Not much else mattered in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.
O'Neal's 43 points and 19 rebounds led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 104-87 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. The Lakers' MVP center brought the Pacers' worst fears about this series to life, shrugging off Indiana's defense to dominate the paint as only Shaq can.
''We've basically got to go back to the drawing board and figure out what to do with that phenomenon, No. 34,'' Indiana forward Jalen Rose said.
Meanwhile, Miller was 1-for-16 from the field in the worst playoff game of a career built on dramatic postseason performances. The Pacers' star guard missed shots long, short and sideways on his way to seven points, a career playoff low.
''He didn't really have anything going on, and that made it kind of easy for us,'' Lakers forward Glen Rice said. ''I don't know if he's ever shot that badly in a big game.''
The Lakers never trailed after the game's first basket and opened a 15-point lead in the first quarter. When Indiana finally made it close in the second half, O'Neal, who was 21-of-31 from the field, shot and passed the Lakers to another comfortable lead and an easy victory.
''I just got the ball in deep position and took high percentage shots,'' O'Neal said. ''If those shots are falling, we're going to be a tough team to beat.''
Game 2 is Friday night at Staples Center.
O'Neal's performance was made possible by the Lakers' adherence to their game plan, something that hasn't always been this talented but mercurial team's strength.
Los Angeles patiently worked the ball into O'Neal all night, while Shaq continually established excellent low-post position and scored on short shots. He made 12 layups and dunks, six jumpers from inside 12 feet and three hook shots.
Kobe Bryant had 14 quiet points for the Lakers, while Ron Harper added 12.
''We executed the game plan 10 times better than we have at any time in this playoff run,'' said Rick Fox, who scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter as the Lakers pulled away. ''This was a performance that was due.''
While Shaq was immensely successful in his first finals game with the Lakers, 12-year veteran and California native Miller made a disastrous finals debut.
He missed all seven of his shots in the first half, finally scored on a weak layup midway through the third quarter, and didn't hit another shot.
His trademark bravado still intact, Miller almost seemed as though he didn't believe what he had done -- or rather, hadn't done.
''I tell you what, if they continue to give me those looks, they're going to be in trouble,'' he said. ''My first four baskets went in and out. Every shot but one felt good. If they're going to play me like that, it's only a matter of time.''
Light-scoring guard Mark Jackson led Indiana with 18 points, while Austin Croshere added 16 and Rose and Rik Smits had 12 apiece.
The L.A. glitterati turned out in heavy numbers for the first finals game in the year-old Staples Center's history, and the Lakers put on a performance worthy of the stage. Los Angeles shot 68 percent in the first quarter to grab a big lead, then protected it by hitting 10-of-18 shots in the fourth quarter.
Los Angeles led 77-71 when the fourth began, but O'Neal quickly got an assist on Brian Shaw's jump shot and then a rebound dunk.
''It seemed like every time we got (within) six or four points, Shaq took over the game,'' Indiana coach Larry Bird said. ''He's so powerful. He jumped so high. He went over us and put the ball in.''
Even when Shaq began to tire in the closing minutes, he continued to score with metronomic regularity. He had a layup with 7:42 to play; a leaner with 6:16 left; another layup with 5:15 left; an offensive rebound, a layup and a foul with 4:02 to play.
The capper came with three minutes left. After Bryant blocked Miller's final shot attempt, Brian Shaw spotted O'Neal cutting toward the hoop and threw an alley-oop pass.
O'Neal tripped over a defender's leg, righted himself, leaped awkwardly at the basket -- and somehow slammed the ball through the hoop with preternatural grace, giving Los Angeles a 98-81 lead.
''That was a great play, because it wasn't a great pass by me,'' Shaw said. ''That's just Shaq. He fixes a lot of mistakes you might make as a team.''
As the crowd jumped to its feet and roared, O'Neal stared at his fans and made a slow circuit of the sideline with his arms outstretched. Clearly, the night belonged to Shaq, whose 21 field goals were one shy of the finals record shared by Elgin Baylor of the Lakers and Rick Barry of the San Francisco Warriors.
O'Neal's heroics covered up a quiet night by his teammates. Rice was 1-for-8 from the field and had just three points, while Shaw was just 2-of-9 and missed all four of his 3-point attempts. Bryant went scoreless in the second quarter and didn't score in the fourth until the game was out of reach.
But on this night, he didn't need to contribute. Shaq took care of everything.
''Tonight in the locker room, I said, 'Thanks for the night off, Chief,''' Bryant said with a grin.
Notes: O'Neal wasn't immune to his usual weakness. He was 1-for-6 from the free-throw line. ... Teen-ager Jonathan Bender, acquired by Indiana in exchange for forward Antonio Davis last summer, had two baskets in garbage time. ... Pacers frontcourt players Rose, Smits and Croshere combined for 10 of Indiana's 14 turnovers. ... From Snoop Doggy Dogg to Gabe Kaplan of ''Welcome Back Kotter'' fame, dozens of celebrities dotted the stands. DreamWorks moguls Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg shared a large plate of nachos at their courtside seats, while Salma Hayek wore a bright purple wig. ... Los Angeles outrebounded Indiana 48-36.
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