The New York Knicks saw the second half run of the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 and raised it on their way to an emphatic 105-79 win on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series.
The Pacers used a 21-9 run in Game 1, coinciding with Carmelo Anthony’s fourth foul early in the third quarter, to seize control of the game and steal home court advantage. The Knicks bounced back quickly with a dominating 30-2 run, spanning the third and fourth quarters, as they cruised to victory.
Looking at the final score, you’d assume New York enjoyed a wire-to-wire victory. In reality, the Pacers had a chance to take a 2-0 series lead back home to Indianapolis.
George Hill made a three-pointer with 3:28 left in the third quarter that gave the Pacers a 64-62 lead. The Knicks promptly went on a 10-2 run to end the period and scored the first 20 points of the fourth. What was a six-point deficit entering the final 12 minutes quickly exploded to a 92-66 margin as Tyler Hansbrough stepped to the line and scored his team’s first points of the quarter at the 4:48 mark.
Indiana went 8:07 without scoring a single point in the second half of a road playoff road. That’s the antithesis of the recipe for success. They went 4-for-16 (25 percent) from the field in the fourth, including 2-for-10 from three (20 percent). Meanwhile, the Knicks went 13-for-23 (56.5 percent) overall and 6-for-13 from deep (46.2 percent) as they posted a 33-13 edge in scoring.
The offensive futility of the Pacers combined with a good shooting night for Anthony spelled the end. After a 10-for-28 performance in the series opener, he went 13-for-26 with 32 points. He didn’t settle for jumpers, attacking the rim whenever Roy Hibbert wasn’t on the floor, and his shot selection was much better than it was two days ago.
J.R. Smith struggled yet again (3-for-15), but Iman Shumpert continued to be a difference-maker with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting. The Pacers can win a game in which Anthony hits 50 percent of his shots, but they can’t allow anyone else to go off. Smith was the only one that struggled as Knicks not named Carmelo or J.R. shot 58.3 percent from the field.
A number of those shots were high percentage looks because…
Keep Calm, Hold Onto The Basketball
Frank Vogel’s club hit a turnover storm at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks took tremendous care of the basketball, committing just six turnovers. The Pacers counteracted that by tripping over themselves, losing hold of the ball 21 times. New York scored 32 points on the miscues, which often allowed them to avoid Indiana’s halfcourt defense.
The main culprit was Paul George, who turned over the ball seven times (he had a single assist). Surprisingly, the Pacers had 12 turnovers in the first half but were able to stay close (the Knicks led 47-42 at the half). They committed just three turnovers in their abysmal fourth, mainly because they took too many jumpers.
Taking It Inside
The Pacers attacked the interior in Game 1 and through the first three quarters on Tuesday night. They have a distinct size advantage with Hibbert and David West, but failed to exploit that in the fateful fourth quarter of Game 2.
They attempted just one shot (and missed) from inside five feet after going 17-for-22 through the first three quarters. The Knicks edged the Pacers 52-40 in the paint overall, which can’t happen with Hibbert and West on the court for close to 80 combined minutes.
Knicks Grab Rebounding Edge
New York held a narrow, but important 37-35 edge on the glass on Tuesday night. Anthony helped with nine rebounds, while wingmen Shumpert and Smith combined for 12 boards. Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin had just five of the Knicks' rebounds.
More troubling than the overall numbers were New York’s 13 offensive rebounds. They scored 28 points on second-chances against just eight for Indiana.
The Pacers dominated the rebounding battle in Game 1 (44-30), including 11 offensive rebounds. They killed the Atlanta Hawks on the glass in the first round, even holding a +3 edge over their two losses at Philips Arena.
During the regular season, Indiana was 39-20 when winning the rebounding battle and 8-10 when losing it.
Eight Points, Nine Seconds
It was a shame the Pacers couldn’t create another lasting memory at Madison Square Garden on May 7. Tuesday marked the 18th anniversary of Reggie Miller’s scoring binge, during which he scored eight points in 8.9 seconds. The Pacers topped the Knicks despite trailing 105-99 with 18.7 seconds remaining. Two threes and a pair of free throws later, Indiana had a 107-105 win.
Miller called the game for TNT, a neat coincidence. I remember watching the game as a kid, learning then that no game is truly over until the final buzzer sounds. To this day, I abide by that rule. It’s ironic that the time keeper at the Garden could have sanctioned a running clock with about six minutes left as the Knicks had a series-trying win wrapped up. To paraphrase Rick Pitino, “Reggie Miller was not walking through that door.”