Pacers dominate short Knicks in Game 4 to even series – NBC New York

After three close games, the Indiana Pacers were up and running early in Game 4.

The little New York Knicks just didn’t have the legs to keep up.

Tyrese Haliburton scored 20 points, TJ McConnell finished with 15 points and 10 assists and the Pacers defeated the Knicks 121-89, using the franchise’s third-largest playoff win in NBA history to even the series draw at 2-2.

Game 5 will be played Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

“All we did was do our job,” Haliburton said after finishing with six rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers. “When you’re at home, you have to protect the home court, so we did our job. We understand the magnitude of Game 5 and we will be prepared for it.”

The first three games all came down to key plays in the final three minutes.

Sunday brought a different twist. Indiana led by as many as 43 — the largest deficit any playoff team has experienced in these playoffs — and fell just short of its two biggest NBA postseason wins, a 34-point blowout over Cleveland in April 2018 and a 33-point win over Cleveland. the Lakers in the 2000 NBA Finals.

And while Indiana seemingly could do nothing wrong, the Knicks could do nothing right.

Pascal Siakam and Obi Toppin scored 14 points each, Aaron Nesmith grabbed 12 rebounds and the Pacers shot 56.8% from the field, 45.2% on three-pointers and erased their only deficit of the game, 2-0, just 44 seconds into the game.

The Knicks, who were once again playing without four key players due to injuries, looked tired.

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Alec Burks finished with 20 points for New York. Brunson, who entered the day with 34.6 points per game in the postseason, scored just 18 on a day when the Knicks shot 33.7% from the field, 18.9% on 3s and flirted with booking the worst playoff loss in franchise history. The record, 41, came in April 1991 in Chicago.

Brunson wasn’t the only one struggling. Donte DiVincenzo, who had 35 points in Game 3, scored just seven on Sunday. The two guards were a combined 9 of 30 from the field and 1 of 11 on 3s.

“We can talk about fresher legs and you can give us as much sympathy as we want,” Brunson said. ‘Yes, we have few people, but that doesn’t matter at the moment. We have what we have. So there is no shortage, there is no excuse. We lose, we lose. That’s what that was.”

Again, the Pacers fed off the energy of a nearly full Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where they are now 5-0 with Game 6 returning to Indianapolis on Friday. Courtside spectators included Indiana-born singer John Mellencamp, Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti and former Pacers stars Dale Davis and Derrick McKey.

What they saw was the most dominant performance in the series.

Without forwards OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic and Julius Randle and center Mitchell Robinson, New York produced a 14-point first quarter and a 41-point first half — the two lowest totals in the first 10 playoff games this season.

A predictable outcome followed.

“We started slow, they made shots, got a big lead and it snowballed,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I thought we missed some wide-open shots early that probably took some energy from us and we can’t allow that to happen.”

The Pacers didn’t make that mistake.

Haliburton’s first three gave Indiana the lead for good at 5-2 and the Pacers followed with a decisive 29-7 spurt in the first quarter, making it 34-11.

New York never recovered. It closed the deficit to 36-19 early in the second, then Indiana answered with 10 straight points before expanding the halftime margin to 69-41.

Things only got worse in the second half.

Indian led 101-63 after three quarters, a deficit so large that both teams rested their starters for the entire fourth quarter. Indiana’s 43-point fourth-quarter lead marked the third time this season it led by at least that margin and the first time New York trailed by that much since Dec. 5, 2019, a span of 388 games.

But for the Pacers, this wasn’t a moment to celebrate; just one step on a journey they hope to continue when they return to New York.

“We did what we had to do, protect the home court,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “I’m not going to write a thesis about how great we are as a team, because we’re only half way to our goal. We have to understand that, have a great deal of humility about what’s going to happen on Tuesday and brace ourselves for it.”