Carmelo Anthony said he was "starving" coming into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but the Pacers were the hungrier team Sunday.
In the Knicks' first second-round playoff game in 13 years, they played like a team that was too relaxed, as if they had achieved something by getting to this point.
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The Pacers provided the wake-up call and the warning shot, dominating the game from the second quarter on and taking the home-court advantage away from the Knicks with a 102-95 victory at the Garden.
"They just flat-out played harder than we did," Anthony said after another rough shooting game. "They outplayed us. They outworked us. There's nothing else you can say about that."
Actually, that's saying a lot. In the playoffs, and on your home court, being outworked is a major indictment. The Knicks, who were booed in the third quarter after falling behind by 16, can even the series in Game 2 Tuesday night. But they must have a different mentality from the tip and figure out how to overcome the Pacers' size.
Indiana dominated inside. The Pacers outrebounded the Knicks by 14 and had a 10-point advantage on second-chance points. After building a double-digit lead in the third, the Pacers were never really threatened until the final minute.
"I thought they played harder than our team," Mike Woodson said. "We didn't start playing until we actually got down and were in desperation.
"We got to get better effort across the board for us to get out of this series."
Anthony, playing with a brace on his sore left shoulder, led the Knicks with 27 points and 11 rebounds but shot 10-for-28. In his last four games, Anthony is 35-for-110 overall and 2-for-25 from three-point range.
He picked up his fourth foul with 7:48 left in the third and went to the bench with the Knicks down six. It was 81-65 when Anthony returned to start the fourth.
He didn't get much help from J.R. Smith, who also continues to misfire. He scored 17 points but shot 4-for-15. In the three games since his return from a one-game suspension for elbowing Boston's Jason Terry in the first round, Smith is 12-for-42.
Roy Hibbert played a big role in Indiana's paint dominance. The 7-2 center had 14 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Indiana outscored the Knicks 46-32 in points in the paint.
"They invite you to go through the big fella," Jason Kidd said. "If you don't get a call, you're not going to make all your shots when you go against Hibbert."
Said Hibbert, "I always tell the guys if they get beat, I'm going to be there at the rim to protect as much as possible and make them earn it."
After being booed at the end of the third, down 16, the Knicks got the crowd back into it with Anthony scoring on their first three possessions of the fourth. The Knicks cut it to 101-95 with 50.7 seconds left and had a chance to draw closer after an Indiana miss, but the possession went miserably for the Knicks.
After Anthony lost the ball, Smith tracked it down and hoisted a long three that smacked off the backboard. Augustin closed out the scoring with a foul shot with 20.8 seconds left.
"We were outworked," Kidd said. "We learned a little bit about ourselves this afternoon that at this level you have to be ready. And we just weren't."
If the Knicks aren't ready for Game 2, this best-of-seven could be a short series.
"We can't go down 0-2, especially playing the first two at home," Kenyon Martin said. "It's impossible. It's a must-win. We have to look at it that way."