>> This was a huge moment for the Pacers, to show they could sustain success and effectively drain the life from a dangerous opponent. It was a not-so-small step toward the giant leap they’ll take with one more victory over the Knicks.
>> Consider, for a moment, these statistics from Paul George: 15-for-50 shooting (.300), 5-for-27 from the arc (.185), and 11 turnovers. Those are his numbers in the Pacers’ three victories.
>> This is not to pick on George, or begin with a negative; quite the contrary. It is to illustrate just how deep and balanced a team the Pacers are, which is precisely why they have taken a stranglehold on this series. And to George’s everlasting credit, he hasn’t let rough shooting discourage his overall play. In those three wins, he has 51 points, 27 rebounds and 19 assists while putting the blanket on Carmelo Anthony.
>> In Game 1, it was David West, who had 20 points and made the big buckets. In Game 3, it was Roy Hibbert, who scored 24 and dominated at both ends. In Game 4, it was George Hill, who scored 26 and seemed to be there whenever the Pacers were in need of a play.
>> Pacers Coach Frank Vogel said it was “maybe the best game I’ve ever seen (Hill) play.” Hard to argue. Hill was particularly important in the third quarter, when the Knicks went on the attack, started getting inside the defense and sent Hibbert to the bench with four fouls less than five minutes in. But Hill scored 14 in the period to keep the Knicks from making much headway.
>> Lance Stephenson didn’t have big numbers but he, too, came up with big plays. His 3-pointer in the third launched a seven-point surge that pushed the lead to 61-43. And when the Knicks closed to 69-61 early in the fourth quarter, he had another three and then followed that up with a high-testosterone drive and just like that the lead was back in double digits again.
>> The Pacers are 7-0 in the playoffs when Hill scores at least 14, 0-3 otherwise, so the value of offensive aggression from the veteran point guard has never been more evident.
>> Another number: the Pacers are 5-0 in the playoffs at home, all by double digits, with an average margin of 15.4, so they’re rewarding those sellout crowds.
>> OK, one more number: for the second game in a row, the Pacers held the Knicks to less than 36 percent shooting (.356) with one of those defensive performances that made it look like the had more players on the floor. As Hill put it, “everybody put their hand in the pile.”
>> Knicks Coach Mike Woodson tried a lineup change, going big with Kenyon Martin at power forward and sending Pablo Prigioni to the bench. It didn’t work even a little. The Knicks’ starters were outscored 24-12 while on the floor as a group. Martin did not score, and neither did Prigioni. “At this point, I’m reaching trying to find combinations that will work,” Woodson said. “Defensively, we were solid but we’ve got to find some guys that can put the ball in the hole.”
>> The two most willing shooters, as usual, were not the most able. Anthony scored 24 but shot 9-for-23. And J.R. Smith continued his stunning descent. Though he scored 19, he shot 7-for-22. For the series, the NBA’s Sixth Man award winner is shooting 28 percent.
>> While we’re at it: Jason Kidd still hasn’t scored in the series. In fact, he hasn’t scored in eight games dating back to April 23, going 0-for-16 overall, 0-for-10 from the arc. This wouldn’t be a huge deal if he hadn’t racked up 177 minutes in that span. His 3-pointer in Game 4 went Vanderjagt and just when you thought he might snap the streak, he missed a layup in transition.
>> The Pacers got nice work from the bench, as D.J. Augustin, Sam Young, Ian Mahnmi and Tyler Hansbrough all played positive minutes. Augustin scored 11, Young had five points in a 16-5 run that gave the Pacers their first double-digit lead in the second quarter, Mahnmi pulled six boards in 10 minutes and Hansbrough, well, did those things he does.
>> The Pacers last appeared in the conference finals in 2004. That is about to change. The Knicks have never recovered from a 3-1 series deficit and offer no evidence, not even a morsel, they have what it takes to rewrite history.