The Knicks didn't enjoy their last trip to Indianapolis, but they are happy to be going back.
They played Thursday night like a team that didn't want their best season in nearly 20 years to end on their home court in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and they made sure it didn't.
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"We played with a sense of urgency, knowing what was at stake," Carmelo Anthony said. "We just wanted to go out there and get this game. We played it like we really wanted it."
It wasn't pretty, but the Knicks played with confidence and put together their most complete game of the series. They never trailed and found some of the scoring they were missing in Games 3 and 4 in Indiana, where the Knicks were beaten badly both times.
Anthony led the Knicks with 28 points and shot 12-for-28 from the field. Chris Copeland was inserted into the rotation after playing only 12:50 in the previous two games -- mostly in garbage time -- and provided a huge lift off the bench, scoring 13 points in 19:25. J.R. Smith also had 13 and Raymond Felton had 12.
"We played a little bit desperate," Anthony said.
"I was totally impressed because we met the challenge," coach Mike Woodson said. "As a coach, you want to see who's going to step up and make plays, and I think we did that . . . Nobody wants to go home."
Only eight teams in NBA history have climbed out of a 3-1 hole to win a series. The Knicks have faith that they can be the ninth.
Anthony said he believes the Knicks can do something special and advance, but they still have to win Game 6 in Indiana to force a seventh game back at the Garden Monday night.
"We believe," Felton said. "That's been our number one statement. We believe in ourselves. We believe in each other. This has been done before. We want to be the ninth team."
They were without starting point guard George Hill, who suffered a concussion in Game 4 when he collided with Tyson Chandler, and their offense sputtered. The Pacers shot 36.2 percent (25-for-69) and had one field goal in the final 6:41.
Hill's status for Game 6 is uncertain. "We got plenty to beat the Knicks with or without George Hill," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Guys got to play better."
The Knicks led by 10 early in the fourth but let the Pacers draw within 75-71 on George's three-pointer with 6:42 left. Anthony answered with a jumper. He made two foul shots on the next trip, and then a driving layup by Felton with 4:39 left gave the Knicks an 81-71 lead.
"We needed a huge effort from everybody," Chandler said.
After making a drastic change in Game 4 by starting a bigger lineup with Anthony at small forward, Woodson went back to the formula he used most of the season that helped the Knicks to 54 wins.
The Knicks started "small" with Felton, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert, Anthony and Chandler. Woodson also turned to Copeland, who showed Woodson he made the right move. Copeland shot 4-for-6 and was 3-for-4 from three-point range.
"I'm extremely excited that I had some kind of impact on the game," Copeland said. "I just hope we can do it again the next game."
The Knicks have had no success in Indiana this season, losing all four games there. Woodson said that has to change.
"Damn it, we got to figure it out real soon," he said. "We're going to huddle after we get off that plane and pump each other up and get ready for Saturday night. Both teams are going to be committed. I'd like to think we'll be committed more because we want it more."