INDIANAPOLIS – George Hill scored 26 points and Paul George had 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, leading the Indiana Pacers past the New York Knicks, 93-82 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last night, and to within one win of their first conference finals appearance since 2004.
“We wanted it,” George said. “For us to come out with that edge, still, after being up 2-1 and being on our floor for Game 4, for us to be up and ready and have an edge to play, it just speaks to how focused we are right now.”
It was a far cry from what Indiana experienced a week ago in New York. Or last year at home against Miami.
Last week, the Knicks rallied from a Game 1 loss, using a 30-2 run to blow out Indiana at Madison Square Garden and even the series.
A year ago, the Pacers held a 2-1 lead over Miami but gave away Game 4 and never won again. Miami went on to win the NBA crown.
So the Pacers went into Tuesday night determined not to let it happen again, certainly not with former stars Reggie Miller and Rik Smits in the house watching their old team hand it to their old rivals.
The Pacers were strong defensively again, had another big rebounding advantage (54-36) and never really let the Knicks challenge them in the second half. They can wrap up the series tomorrow night in New York.
Desperate New York tried everything to change the script. Nothing worked. Kenyon Martin played 29 minutes and J.R. Smith logged 31Ω despite missing practice Sunday and Monday because they were ill. Guard Iman Shumpert started even with a sore and swollen left knee that had the Knicks so worried they brought an orthopedic doctor to Indy to examine it Tuesday. The doctor determined there was no structural damage.
Amar’e Stoudemire was called for four fouls in 11-plus minutes in his second game back since March 7 and had only four points and four rebounds.
NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony finished with 24 points before fouling out with 2 minutes left in the game. He took only four shots in the fourth quarter and was held without a basket over the final 12 minutes for the second straight game. Smith, the NBA’s top sixth man, scored 19 points, most coming in a futile attempt to rally his team late.
Meanwhile at the AT& T Centre in San Antonio, Tony Parker had 25 points and 10 assists, and the Spurs held the Golden State Warriors’ starting backcourt to 13 points for a 109-91 victory.
The Spurs outrebounded the Warriors 38-36, forced 14 turnovers and limited them to 16 second-chance points.
“Our energy was good,” Parker said. “We got the 50-50 ball; that was huge for us tonight. It was a tough turnaround for us in Game 4. We missed an opportunity at the end and we realize that. Tonight we played for 48 minutes.”
Kawhi Leonard added 17 points, Danny Green scored 16 and Tim Duncan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio. Harrison Barnes scored 25 points, Jarrett Jack added 20 and Carl Landry 16 for Golden State, but star guard Stephen Curry was held to nine points.
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