The Knicks looked like a different team on Tuesday night as they defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal by a score of 105-79. After only leading by six going into the final frame, the Knicks eviscerated the Pacers with a 30-2 run in an offensive and defensive clinic.
After trailing by 13 points earlier in the game, Indiana fought back to cut the Knicks’ lead to only 5 at halftime. They even took a lead (61-60) with 4:20 to go in the third quarter on a Lance Stephenson three pointer. From that moment on, the Bockers outscored their foes 45-18. They only allowed 13 points in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks avoided embarrassment and disaster by simply winning this game despite the one-sided final score. To lose this game would have been a death knell, as the Knicks would have to avoid a sweep on Indiana’s home court, where they are among the best in the league.
As it is, with the series tied 1-1, New York will have to steal a game in Indianapolis if they want to advance to the next round, whether that be Game 3, 4 or 6. This will not be an easy task, as the Pacers will have plenty of fan support to draw upon as they take on a long time playoff rival.
Carmelo Anthony, despite average play for the first thirty or so minutes of the ballgame showed a spark late in the third quarter and into the fourth, giving the Knicks the momentum they needed for their monumental run. Anthony finished with 32 points and 9 rebounds, despite a nagging shoulder injury.
Iman Shumpert, Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton all continued to flourish as they registered 15, 10 and 14 points, respectively. Kenyon Martin also provided a boost with ten points and a stout defensive effort (2 blocks).
On the more troubling side, JR Smith continued to struggle from the field, scoring only 8 points on an abysmal 3-15 shooting. Tyson Chandler also had a poor game by his standards, only registering 8 points and 4 rebounds.
If Anthony is indeed back and has found his shot, the Pacers are in trouble. With all of the Knicks role players performing at a high level, the return to grace of their superstar will only complicate matters for the Pacers’ defense, despite their skill. The Knicks can use the three-day break before Game 3 to their advantage by resting their older players as well as their injured ones, such as Anthony.
Amare Stoudemire may return for Game 3 in Indiana in a limited capacity. If he can perform on defense like he did earlier in the year, he could be a welcome force against the bigger Pacers lineup. Game 3 is Saturday at 8:00 pm eastern time on ABC.