Hooray more basketball! The New York Knicks extended at least two more days to their season with a 85-75 victory over the Indiana Pacers tonight. It was a generally ugly game, filled with a seemingly endless amount of turnovers, missed shots and missed free throws. Yet, the Knicks grabbed control early, gradually built their lead and never let the Pacers really threaten in the final minutes.
Indiana starting point guard George Hill was a late scratch with a concussion and not having him was a critical blow to the Pacers offensive rhythm. Indiana racked up 19 turnovers and was forced to give extended minutes to DJ Augustin and Gerald Green. Raymond Felton also had a big second half without Hill’s length pestering him, scoring 10 of his 12 points then and dropping off a few key assists.
It was a balanced attack from the Knicks offensively, as Mike Woodson finally pulled the plug on Jason Kidd’s minutes in the second half after five more scoreless first half minutes from him. He also didn’t play Amare Stoudemire in the second half, while giving Chris Copeland the extra time he deserved. Copeland responded by being the Knicks second leading scorer with 13 points, including 3 three pointers, 2 steals and 4 rebounds in 19 minutes. Pablo Prigioni was back in the starting line-up and also played 19 minutes, finishing with 3 points, 3 assists and 1 steal.
It wasn’t a dominant night for Carmelo Anthony but he gutted out 28 points and 6 rebounds on 12/28 shooting, including a few big buckets in the final five minutes. JR Smith took a few steps in the right direction with 13 points. It was only on 4/11 shooting but he did grab 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals and a block.
The Knicks managed to limit Roy Hibbert’s effectiveness, as he struggled with fouls all night. Compared to what he has been doing all series, his 7 rebounds and 9 points were easy to stomach. Paul George had a nice game with 23 points but the Pacers bench only scored a total of 10 points. They will continue to struggle with their offensive output with Hill on the sideline.
It is now on to Saturday night in Indiana for Game 6. Just like tonight, the Knicks need to focus on one game at a time. It sure as hell won’t be easy getting a road victory but if they can get by against a young Pacers team, you can imagine how tight Indiana will be Monday night at Madison Square Garden for Game 7.