Knicks beat Pacers, lock up East's No. 2 seed for playoffs; will face Celtics in first round

Carmelo Anthony reacts after a basket during a

Carmelo Anthony reacts after a basket during a game against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden. (April 14, 2013) (Credit: Jim McIsaac)

The Knicks are No. 2, and they can't wait to see Boston in round one.

Their 90-80 victory over Indiana on Sunday locked up the second seed in the Eastern Conference and set up a first-round playoff meeting with the rival Celtics.

"We want to beat Boston," Carmelo Anthony said. "Let's be quite frank. This would be a great series for us. It's going to be a grind-out series. We want to win this series, and that's our mindset."

No one is more relieved than Anthony that the Knicks (53-27) sewed up the No. 2 seed -- their highest since 1993-94. Anthony, who scored 25 points, suffered a contused left shoulder in the third quarter and could use a break.

Played physically all game, Anthony hurt his shoulder on a hard foul by Sam Young. Anthony finished the quarter but kept rotating his left arm. He almost re-entered the game twice in the fourth, but Mike Woodson sent him back to the bench each time.

Afterward, he said he is fine.

"I was going in one motion and he kind of ripped my arm back," said Anthony, who badly missed his first of two free throws but made the second. "My first instinct was to grab my shoulder. It was weak at that point when I first shot the first free throw. It was kind of weak. So I had to get my bearings back and shake it out a little bit.

"It's sore. Just from the contact. I'll be fine. It's nothing for me to worry about."

The Knicks hope not, especially after what happened to Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who tore his Achilles tendon Friday. Raymond Felton said his first thought when he saw Anthony get hurt was: "Take him out of the game. Take him out of this game."

Anthony, who for the first time in eight games fell short of scoring 30 points, led the Knicks to their 15th win in 16 games in what probably was his regular-season finale. The Knicks, who again had only 10 available bodies, have two games left, but Anthony already has said he won't play Monday night in Charlotte.

Anthony, who has looked tired lately, played heavy minutes while the undermanned Knicks chased the second spot, which assures them of home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs. Now that they have clinched that, Anthony can exhale, rest his shoulder and legs and get ready for Game 1 Saturday.

"It was a big game for us," he said. "So now guys can get their rest. I can get my rest and come back full speed ready for the playoffs."

The Knicks haven't won a postseason series since 2000. The Celtics eliminated them two years ago in Anthony's first postseason with the Knicks, and he said, "That's in the back of our minds."

Despite the defeat, the Pacers (49-31) secured the No. 3 spot in the East with the Nets' loss in Toronto. The defending champion Heat is the East's top seed.

Chris Copeland scored 20 points and J.R. Smith had 15 points and eight rebounds. Brooklyn's Lance Stephenson led Indiana (49-31) with 22 points and David West added 17.

The Knicks led by as many as 20 and went ahead 84-69 on Smith's three-pointer with 5:40 left.

Anthony got off the bench and prepared to check in after the Pacers closed to within 10. But Felton hit a floater, the Pacers were called for an offensive foul and Copeland scored inside to put the Knicks up 88-74 with 2:57 left. Anthony was back on the bench by then and the Atlantic Division champion Knicks were on their way to achieving another regular-season goal.

"It means a lot," Felton said. "It's a good feeling to be in position to have home-court advantage for two rounds if we're lucky enough to make it that far. We're definitely happy. But we're not satisfied."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

NBA video

advertisement | advertise on newsday