Knicks eliminated from playoffs after Game 6 loss to Pacers
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INDIANAPOLIS - The Knicks' most successful season in nearly 20 years ended here Saturday night, 10 wins short of their first championship since 1973.
Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks suffered a disheartening final defeat. They erased a 12-point third-quarter deficit but fell apart in the last five minutes and were eliminated with a 106-99 loss to the Pacers in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Pacers advanced to the Eastern Conference finals and will face the defending champion Heat in Miami beginning Wednesday.
Anthony, who finished with 39 points, played brilliantly for three quarters, scoring 35 and shooting 13-for-22, but had a rough fourth quarter in which he scored four points on 2-for-7 shooting. Anthony had a dunk blocked by Roy Hibbert and committed three turnovers during a series-deciding 9-0 run by Indiana.
Iman Shumpert scored 19 points, 16 of them in the Knicks' third-quarter comeback. J.R. Smith added 15 points but shot 4-for-15.
Brooklyn's Lance Stephenson had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead Indiana. Paul George scored 23 and Hibbert had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. George Hill, who returned after missing Game 5 with a concussion, had 12 points, including big free throws late.
The Knicks were up 92-90 when Anthony was denied by Hibbert, and Stephenson scored inside on the other end. Later, Stephenson converted Anthony's turnover into a layup and was fouled. West capped the run with a tip-in with 2:35 left to make it 99-92.
Anthony made his first basket of the fourth quarter on the next possession to bring the Knicks within five, but Stephenson hit a layup to make it 101-94 with 1:53 left.
Smith drove, scored and was fouled with 1:15 left, and his foul shot cut it to 101-97. After two foul shots by Hill, Anthony's driving dunk made it a four-point game again. But Hill put the Pacers up 105-99 with two more foul shots with 39.5 seconds to go.
The Knicks appeared in trouble in the third quarter, falling behind by 12. But Anthony, who was single-handedly keeping the Knicks in the game, responded with a three-pointer, and then help finally came in the form of four straight three-pointers in a span of 1:42. Shumpert drilled three of them and Smith buried the fourth one with 3:10 left to tie the score at 72.
After Shumpert's fourth three-pointer of the third quarter tied the score at 79, Anthony's finger roll with 11.9 seconds left gave the Knicks an 81-79 lead, their first since the opening minute of the first quarter. George scored inside to send the game to the fourth quarter tied at 81.
Then it was Chris Copeland's turn. He buried two three-pointers early in the fourth, giving the Knicks an 87-84 lead after his second one 1:50 into the quarter.
Indiana regained the lead at 90-89 on George's layup with 6:03 left, but Smith gave it right back to the Knicks with a three-pointer on the next trip.
Hill was cleared to play after completing all of the steps of the return-to-participation protocol in the NBA's concussion policy. He received a huge ovation when he was introduced and got an even louder reaction when he drained his first three-point attempt 2:33 into the game.
The Pacers got an emotional lift from that and dominated the glass early, grabbing the first seven rebounds of the game. They jumped out to a 17-9 lead, but the Knicks battled back and trailed by only 29-27 at the end of the quarter.
Anthony made his last five shots in the quarter to lead the Knicks back. He scored 20 in the first half.