The Indiana Pacers won, but it wasn't with confidence. The Pacers offense disappeared in the second half, getting outscored 46-38, but a 7-0 run to close the game helped push Indiana into the win column. The Pacers led by 18 in the third, but allowed the Knicks back into the game, taking a late fourth quarter lead.
Indiana shot 42% on the night, holding the Knicks to 34%, but 18 offensive rebounds, 10 of those from Robin Lopez, helped keep New York alive to the end. Sasha Vujacic hitting five threes to lead New York with 21 and Arron Afflalo had a big fourth quarter, scoring 15. Indiana benefited from a late whistle that wiped away an Afflalo three in the closing seconds when Afflalo stepped out of bounds, allowing Indiana to maintain a then four-point lead.
Paul George led the Pacers with 20 points and nine rebounds, including a big pull-up jumper with 24 seconds remaining to put Indiana ahead 89-87. George Hill (10 points) and Ian Mahinmi (10 points, eight rebounds) reached double figures in the closing seconds, showing the difficulty the new-look starting lineup has had finding points, with Monta Ellis scoring just seven.
That left the game in the hands of the bench again, which once again took a first quarter deficit into a comfortable halftime (and third quarter) lead. Myles Turner had a big first half, scoring 12 points and getting plenty of help from Ty Lawson, who had all five of his assists in the first half. Rodney Stuckey and C.J. Miles once again had positive nights scoring, as Stuckey scored 17 points and Miles had 10 including a pair of threes.
Unfortunately, the collapse of the Pacers offense forced George back into action after he re-aggravated his sore ankle. Fortunately the Pacers get a couple of days rest before their next game, Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs at 55-22 lead the 2nd place Raptors by 3 1/2 games, which will mean they still need to clinch the top overall seed by the time the two teams play as Toronto holds the head-to-head tiebreaker.
The Knicks played shorthanded tonight, resting Carmelo Anthony, but the Pacers were still able to complete their first back-to-back sweep since November 3-4. The matter in which they've won these games against Philadelphia and New York hasn't inspired confidence in the now 41-36 Pacers, but George remains hopeful the team will play at a higher level against the higher level Cavaliers.
Indiana moves back into 7th with the win, tied with Detroit, who will travel to Miami to face the Heat on Tuesday as part of a Florida back-to-back. By the time Indiana wraps up their game, Pacers will be cleanly in 7th or 8th, but the Chicago Bulls continue to loom, pulling out a win today to stay within two games of the 8th seed.