Three strong quarters (and one not-so-strong quarter) helped the Indiana Pacers to the New York Knicks to secure their fifth straight win. After a fairly close first quarter, the Pacers second unit opened the second quarter on a 14-2 run to put them up by double figures for good.
Indiana outscored the Knicks 63-41 across the second and third quarter, but after opening up a 29-point lead to start the fourth, the Pacers had to withstand a furious New York comeback spearheaded by Brandon Jennings. Jennings scored all 17 of his points in the fourth as the Knicks drew to within 10, but he got testy in the game’s final minute, leading to an ejection that got Joe Young caught in the middle.
The offense for the Pacers was on point to once again break 60 in a half in finish with 123 points. The Pacers had 25 assists, led by Jeff Teague with eight, shooting 50% for the game and hitting 11 of 24 from three point range. The Pacers were 26-28 from the free throw line, with Teague leading the way at 9-9. Teague also led the Pacers in scoring with 19 in a well-rounded effort from the Pacers.
In their last game against the Knicks, the explosion of Carmelo Anthony proved fatal when matched with big games from Kristaps Porzingis and Derrick Rose, but Indiana did well to hold all three within check throughout the game with Anthony scoring a team high 17. Anthony had a big third quarter, but all in all, Glenn Robinson III did well when matched up against him.
Foul trouble on Paul George forced a defensive switch and along with help defense from Myles Turner, Robinson was able to hold his own against Anthony while scoring eight and pulling in six rebounds. He was one of three starters to hit a pair of threes along with Teague and Thaddeus Young.
Young proved the most effective player for the Pacers, scoring 16 points on 6-8 shooting with nine rebounds and four steals. Young was a huge energy boost for the Pacers, always appearing to be in the right place to make a play for the Pacers. Turner as well came up at the right places with a solid night of 13 point, 10 rebound double double, coming up with three offensive rebounds (scoring seven off of those rebounds).
C.J. Miles and Al Jefferson had double figure nights to lead the bench effort, one that proved a big advantage for the Pacers until the fourth quarter from Jennings and Mindaugas Kuzminskas allowed the Knicks to wind up with the win in bench points. Miles had 15 and Jefferson scored 14. Jefferson and Monta Ellis were 10-10 from the free throw line as Ellis finished with nine. Kevin Seraphin scored eight despite being limited with foul trouble.
Within the inconsistent Eastern Conference, the Pacers become just the second team between 3rd and 12th to win as many as five in a row, joining the now-fire sale Hawks. While Indiana hasn’t faced a winning team during this streak, they’ve come to find a level of consistency against teams they’d like to think themselves better than, teams they hadn’t previously had consistency against.
The schedule remains favorable for Indiana in that sense for another month, with only three games against winning teams. It may be too soon to grow comfortable with the team’s progress, but they’ll have all the opportunities to solidify their place in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Pacers will head overseas to represent the NBA in London. The game won’t be until Thursday, but there will be plenty of work for the Pacers to do leading up to the game against the Denver Nuggets.