INDIANAPOLIS - The Knicks will need a monumental comeback, and a major change in how they're playing, to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
For the second straight time, the Knicks were overmatched against the Pacers and were beaten, 93-82, in Game 4 last night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Knicks trail the Eastern Conference semifinal 3-1 and face elimination in Game 5 tomorrow night at the Garden. But Carmelo Anthony is confident they will be back in Indiana for Game 6 Saturday and their season won't end in this round.
"I believe," Anthony said. "I really believe that we can do something special here. I'm very confident that we can do something special here. We must win Thursday and figure it out from there.
"We remain very confident. We've got to believe within ourselves because nobody is going to believe in us and have the confidence enough to say we have a chance to win this series. I believe that."
The Pacers are the ones overflowing with confidence. They never trailed in this game and put the Knicks in an 18-point hole in the third quarter.
The Knicks never really came close to making it a competitive game in the second half. Indiana led by double digits for all but 6.2 seconds after halftime.
"I still do believe that we are the better team," Anthony said after leading the Knicks with 24 points but going scoreless in the fourth quarter for the second game in a row. "We're just not playing at that level right now."
The Knicks offense stalled again. They shot 31-for-87 from the field (35.6 percent) and were once again manhandled on the boards 54-36.
This after Mike Woodson brought Pablo Prigioni (three scoreless minutes) off the bench and inserted Kenyon Martin (29 minutes, zero points) in the starting lineup to play alongside Anthony and Tyson Chandler. Woodson went big most of the night, but it hardly mattered. Paul George grabbed 14 rebounds, Roy Hibbert 11 and David West 10 for Indiana.
"Rebounding-wise we got hammered on the boards again," Woodson said.
"They're pinning their ears back," Chandler said. "It's not just one or two guys, it's five guys crashing the boards. We have to make them pay for it. If they're going to send five guys, we've got to get fast-break points to continue to slow them down, but we haven't been able to capitalize on it."
Anthony promised before the game to be more aggressive after taking 16 shots in Game 3. He ended up 9-for-23 and fouled out with two minutes remaining.
J.R. Smith scored 19 points but had another bad shooting night (7-for-22).
George Hill led Indiana with 26 points. George added 18 points and seven assists and played strong defense on Anthony.
The Knicks had many questions and concerns coming into the game aside from figuring out how to beat the Pacers.
Anthony wanted to clear the air with Chandler for his comments about the Knicks being too selfish offensively. Chandler said he wasn't referring to Anthony. Smith and Martin were quarantined the previous two days with a virus and Iman Shumpert (16 minutes, 0-for-6 from the field) played with swelling and soreness in his surgically repaired left knee.
Now Woodson and the Knicks have even more questions because of how ineffective they have been. They have played nothing like the team that won 54 games and earned the second seed in the East.
"I can't lose hope," Woodson said. "It takes four games to get out of this series. We go home and handle our business at home and get back here on Friday and see if we can force a Game 7."