Indianapolis (TSN) – Paul George did a little bit of everything Thursday, totaling 24 points, 11 rebounds, six steals and five assists as the Indiana Pacers took advantage of Carmelo Anthony’s absence in an 81-76 victory over the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Ian Mahinmi was the only other Indiana player who finished in double figures, adding 13 points off the bench in the club’s third straight win and fifth in six games.
The Pacers held the Knicks to 26 points below their average two days after limiting the reigning NBA-champion Miami Heat to 77 points.
Anthony was serving a one-game ban handed down by the league for confronting Boston’s Kevin Garnett following Monday’s loss against the Celtics.
Without the league’s second leading scorer, New York shot 35 percent from the field to drop back-to-back games for just the third time this season. J.R. Smith scored a game-high 25 points, while Tyson Chandler added 12 points and 15 rebounds in the setback.
Chandler opened the fourth quarter with a dunk for a 62-58 lead, but the Knicks missed their next 11 shots from the field. The subsequent 13-0 run gave the hosts a 71-62 cushion with under five minutes to play. George highlighted the surge with six points and dished to Mahinmi for a dunk to finish it off.
Amar’e Stoudemire ended New York’s drought with a jumper, but Mahinmi scored eight of the next 10 points, essentially sealing the outcome with a dunk off an offensive rebound while being fouled. Mahinmi’s free throw made it 79-66 with 2:15 remaining, and the Knicks failed to mount a comeback.
Both teams shot under 30 percent in an ugly first quarter that ended with Indiana holding a 16-14 lead.
The Pacers were on top at the break, 39-34, despite shooting just 36 percent in the first half and went ahead by double digits after scoring on their first four possessions of the third quarter, as George’s slam made it a 49-38 game.
Offensive struggles also plagued the Knicks to that point, but Smith helped the visitors get back on track by bookending a 13-3 run with a pair of three- point plays, the latter cutting the deficit to 52-51 with 4:31 on the clock.
Smith finished his 12-point frame with a mid-range jumper in the final minute to give New York its first lead, 60-58, since it was 12-11 late in the first quarter.
Notes: The Knicks connected on just four 3-pointers on 20 attempts, seven makes below their league-high average coming in … The Knicks’ previous scoring low this season was 85 points in a loss to the Bulls on Dec. 8 … The Knicks are 3-4 without Anthony in the lineup … The Pacers close out a four-game homestand on Saturday against Charlotte.
“That’s Eastern Conference basketball for you. A solid team win. They’re rising to the challenge. Paul George is just blossoming before our very eyes. His mindset is to dominate defensively. It’s a heck of a weapon to have as a coach. He’s leading our defense which is becoming a beast and our guys are developing that identity. We’re understanding what we’re doing defensively is special. And if our offense catches up we’ll be tough to beat. I’m very proud of what our defense is doing. (On Ian Mahinmi) He made some big time plays late in the game. (On Jeff Pendergraph) Jeff is a heck of a basketball player. He has a great basketball IQ.”
“(On slowing down the Knicks) We kept them out of the middle for the most part. We forced them to take a lot of jump shots. That’s been the key to our defense – keeping guys out of the paint and forcing them to shoot contested shots. (On Ian Mahinmi) Ian played huge for us. He took on a role as Roy (Hibbert) would. As far as when guys are coming at him, he’s going straight up. He did an amazing job blocking guys out and getting boards and running the floor and getting open. (On the win) It was good we could play well at the national level and good we got this win against a good team.”
“I always try to be aggressive whenever I come in the game. I try to be aggressive and make good decisions, whether it’s taking the open jumper or driving the ball or passing it. I try to make the right play. (On the Pacers defense) We’re pretty confident with what we’re doing on defense. We have a great system and we all buy into it.”