Knicks go cold as Pacers win to take 2-1 series advantage
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INDIANAPOLIS - The Knicks thought they rediscovered their offense in Game 2 against Indiana, but they lost it again in the three days between games.
Too many Knicks misses and too many Pacers putbacks led to an 82-71 Indiana win in Game 3 Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers lead the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals 2-1. Game 4 is Tuesday night here.
"Offensively, we just didn't have anything," Mike Woodson said. "We didn't have any offensive pop for some reason. I've got to figure it out. We just looked slow."
Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points, but shot 6-for-16 for the game and didn't make a basket in the fourth quarter. He needed help and didn't get any. No other Knick reached double figures.
J.R. Smith was slowed by a 102-degree fever that kept him out of the morning shootaround. He played, but was out of rhythm. He finished 4-for-12 with nine points.
The rest of the Knicks weren't under the weather, but collectively they were out of rhythm all night, too. They shot 25-for-71 (35.2 percent).
Amar'e Stoudemire, back from right-knee surgery, played for the first time since March 7. He was 3-for-8 with seven points in nine minutes, and gave the Knicks a lift late in the third quarter. But it wasn't enough.
"I think our problem is we're playing as individuals," said Tyson Chandler, who was badly outplayed by Pacers center Roy Hibbert. "We're getting in there, we're taking our shot, we're forcing our shot. We're playing a lot of one-on-one basketball."
The Pacers actually shot worse than the Knicks (35 percent), but they dominated inside like in Game 1. Indiana outrebounded the Knicks 53-40 and converted 18 offensive boards into 20 points, twice as many as the Knicks.
Hibbert was the leader there for Indiana. The 7-2 center had 24 points and 12 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end. By comparison, Chandler had nine points, five rebounds and just one offensive board.
"Roy got a lot of his stuff just out of pure effort," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "I think this was his best playoff game ever. He's just oozing with confidence."
"I thought he was the best player on the floor tonight," Woodson said.
George Hill added 17 points. David West had 11 points and 12 rebounds and Paul George 14 points, eight boards and eight assists for the Pacers, who trailed just once in the game 13-11, and led the last 39:04.
The Knicks trimmed a 14-point third-quarter deficit to eight with 9:10 remaining in the game. But the Pacers answered with seven consecutive points, the last two on a Hibbert tip-in with 6:46 left to make it 72-57.
"I think we did a good job playing defense but we couldn't limit them to one shot," Chandler said. "They got way too many second-chance opportunities and when we did get the rebounds, we're not making them pay. We're walking the ball up instead of pushing it. We have to make them pay for crashing every time, or they're going to do it."
It became a free-throw game after that, but the Knicks never got the deficit under 11. Neither team scored a basket until a West dunk with 2:50 left that gave Indiana a 77-64 lead. Moments later, a Hill three-pointer made it a 16-point game.
The Knicks trailed 36-33 at the half, but the Pacers went to Hibbert and West more in the third and opened up a 58-44 lead with 3:05 left in the quarter.
Anthony picked up three fouls in a 3:18 stretch while guarding West and Hibbert on a switch and went to the bench with four personals.
Smith and Stoudemire helped keep the Knicks in the game. Smith scored twice inside, and Stoudemire had a tip-in and drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to bring the Knicks within 62-53 heading to the fourth. But Indiana pulled away in the fourth with the Knicks missing nine of their first 10 shots.
"At the end of the day," Anthony said, "everything comes down to making shots and we didn't do that."
After Anthony brought the Knicks within two with three free throws -- two on a foul and one on a technical -- the Pacers scored eight unanswered and took a 32-22 lead on a West jump shot with 4:51 to go.
The Knicks were fortunate to only be down three at the half since they shot 38.7 percent, committed 10 turnovers and were outrebounded by 11. Indiana was a plus-10 on the offensive boards in the half.
But the Pacers turned it over nine times and shot just 31.9 percent in the first half and missed countless open shots. George Hill made his first two three-pointers, but was 1-for-6 from deep the rest of the half.