NEW YORK – A frigid fourth quarter by Indiana, coupled with a resurgent performance from All-Star Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks Tuesday night, helped the Orange and Blue pull even in the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.
Anthony dropped 32 points, and the Knicks, aided by a 30-2 spurt in the second half, topped the Pacers, 105-79, to knot the series.
Anthony contributed 16 of his 32 during New York’s impressive fourth-quarter run, which saw Indiana go ice cold – the result of an improved defensive effort by the hosts, said Knicks head coach Mike Woodson after the game, along with a series of turnovers by the Pacers, a factor Indiana head coach Frank Vogel said spelled doom for his team on this night.
“I think we played with a sense of urgency today,” Anthony said. ”We played the way we’ve been playing as far as competing at the highest level.”
Added Woodson of the fourth quarter: “We kept getting stop after stop and then we would rebound the ball and get it up and our offense began to flow like old times. It was kind of nice to see.”
New York received a big boost from its backcourt, too. Iman Shumpert, who threw down a sensational first-half, highlight reel dunk, netted 15 points and Raymond Felton added 14.
In the process, a close game turned into a blowout late.
Indiana star Paul George scored 20 points, 15 in the first half and struggled to get into the scoring column late in the third and fourth quarters, when the Pacers held a two-point advantage with three minutes left to play in the third before the Knicks opened a 26-point lead by the time Indiana scored again in the fourth.
“Melo just caught fire,” George said, noting that the Pacers remain confident, having achieved what they set out to do, which was to at least split the road series in New York and then return to Indiana for the next two, including Saturday’s Game 3.
Vogel said in his postgame press conference that turnovers played a large role in the outcome. Indiana committed 12 TOs that led to 20 points in the second half. For the game, Indiana committed 21, which translated into 32 points. Indiana trailed most of the way before taking a 64-62 lead on George Hill’s 3-pointer with 3:28 left in the third.
That’s when New York turned it on and closed the period on a 10-2 run. Pablo Prigioni and Kenyon Martin helped the surge and finished with 10 points apiece for the Knicks.
Earlier, the Knicks scored seven straight midway through the first quarter and led 29-20 heading into the second.
The Knicks stretched the lead to 11 when Shumpert darted into the lane, grabbed the rebound off a missed 3, and with one hand and threw it down for the jam.
Shumpert, who didn’t even play until midseason after tearing his ACL in the playoffs last year, said he was trying to make a statement, adding, “I just wanted to win this game real bad.”
Knicks center Tyson Chandler said the team played with a sense of urgency.
Now, Game 3 is set for Saturday night in Indiana and the Knicks expect to get Amar’e Stoudemire back.
Stoudemire, who hasn’t played since March 7 with a right knee debridement, scrimmaged three-on-three on Monday. He’ll take some more reps this week in preparation for Saturday, but Stoudemire and the Knicks, like the Pacers, will also have a chance to catch up on some rest.
“The more rest the better,” Anthony said in his postgame interview on the hardwood with TNT. “At this point it’s kind of hard to get some rest, so I just treat it the way I’ve been treating it as of late.
“See what happens,” added Anthony, whose shoulder popped in and out in Game 6 of the first-round series with Boston and has bothered him of late. “But I could use these next couple of days, I’ll tell you that.”
After Saturday, Game 4 is set for May 14 and Game 5 back in New York would be played on May 16.
NOTES: It was the first time the Knicks scored 100 points in a playoff game since June 9, 1999, when they beat the Pacers 101-94 … The Pacers’ only previous Game 1 win in New York had been exactly 18 years earlier, when Reggie Miller scored eight points in the closing seconds to stun the Knicks … Guard Pablo Prigioni opened the fourth for the Knicks with a 3-pointer, drawing chants of “Pablo! Pablo!”