NBA Playoffs: New York Knicks 2-4 Indiana Pacers

Down and out: The Knicks fall to Indiana

Down and out: The Knicks fall to Indiana in 6

The Knicks‘ long wait for an NBA Championship continued as the Indiana Pacers set up a Conference Final showdown with the reigning champions. New York almost threw away a 3-0 advantage in the first round against the Celtics before winning in Boston in Game 6 to clinch the series while the Pacers defeated Atlanta by the same 4-2 scoreline.

GAME 1: Indiana 102-95 New York @ Madison Square Garden

Indiana made a great start to their series with the Knicks by stealing the opening game on the road. Carmelo Anthony had a game high 27 points for the hosts while the Pacers had six players in double figures with David West leading the way with 20 points. The home side ended the opening quarter with the final nine points as Ray Felton and JR Smith netted triples to give New York a 27-18 lead. A run of six unanswered points gave the visitors the lead in the second and Paul George‘s 3-pointer made it 52-46 at half-time. In the third, the Pacers opened up a double-digit lead and finished the quarter in the ascendency to move 16 points clear at 81-65. ‘Melo‘ opened the fourth with the first six points and then added another basket soon after to take his tally to 20 points and reduce the Knicks‘ deficit to nine points. They closed to within six in the final minute but the game was beyond them as Indiana took a 1-0 lead.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 1-0.

GAME 2: Indiana 79-105 New York @ Madison Square Garden

New York bounced back from a disappointing defeat in Game 1 with a blowout in front of their home fans to tie the series. Anthony again top scored whilst adding 9 rebounds to his 32 point haul and the regular season scoring leader received support in the form of Iman Shumpert’s 15 points and 14 more from Felton. The Knicks made an 8-2 start and carried their early momentum throughout the opening quarter and Melo‘s basket made it 29-20 at the end of the first. The visitors managed to close within five points before the Knicks responded with the next 8 to see their lead peak at 47-34. However, New York then went scoreless for the final 3:46 of the half and the Pacers compiled a duplicate 8-0 run to again trail by five at the end of the second. Indiana kept up the pressure when play resumed and finally took the lead at 61-60 on a Lance Stephenson three. Anthony responded with five quick points and the Knicks finished the third well to lead 72-66 with the fourth to go. They then opened the final quarter with an incredible 20-0 run spanning over seven minutes to lead 92-66 with Anthony contributing 11 of those points. Quentin Richardson came off the bench to net consecutive 3-pointers to make it a 26-2 start to the 4th as the Knicks went on to seal an emphatic victory.

Series tied at 1-1.

GAME 3: New York 71-82 Indiana @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Indiana edged a low scoring game at home to take a 2-1 series lead after a double-double from Roy Hibbert led the way. George Hill opened the game with two 3-pointers before George followed with one of his own as the Pacers set a deceiving tone. Anthony‘s successful jumpshot meant that the Knicks trailed 18-15 at the end of the first. Indiana built a ten point lead in the second with an 8-0 run but the gap was back down to three by half-time as the Knicks were down 36-33. Hill and George started the second as they did the first as Indiana enjoyed the better of the play in the third, using a 9-0 run to establish a 58-44 run midway through the quarter. Amar’e Stoudemire was making his return from injury for New York and the NBA veteran netted a triple on the buzzer as the visitors now trailed 62-53. The fourth quarter was relatively comfortable for the Pacers as they maintained a double-digit advantage throughout the final period to take care of home court. Hibbert‘s 24-12 was supported by George‘s 14-8-8 while the Knicks were led by Anthony‘s 21 points.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 2-1.

GAME 4: New York 82-93 Indiana @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Indiana took care of home court to move within a game of the Eastern Conference Finals after a strong first half was enough to carry them to victory. George inspired an 11-3 start for the Pacers with six points before the Knicks responded with a similar run to tie the game. Indiana closed the first with a 9-2 run and led 23-16 after the opening quarter. The Pacers took control in the second with a strong start before with-holding a New York fightback to add an 13-2 run before Anthony ended the half with a jumpshot before the buzzer with the Knicks down 48-34. The lead peaked at 18 points in the third before the visitors managed to narrowly reduce their arrears by the end of the quarter, where they trailed 67-56. Chris Copeland and Smith combined to make it a single figure deficit but an 11-2 run from Indiana put the game beyond doubt. Smith netted a couple of late 3-pointers while Steve Novak also connected from downtown but the Pacers held the Knicks at bay from the free throw line.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 3-1.

GAME 5: Indiana 75-85 New York @ Madison Square Garden

New York extended the series in a must-win game at home to force Indiana to close out the series in Game 6. Anthony led the way with a 28 point haul and helped the Knicks into a fast start as they led 11-4 early on. The home side’s lead was cut to four by the end of the first where they led 19-15. Copeland netted a three in the second to make it a nine point lead but Indiana again narrowed the gap to six to trail 40-34 at half-time. The Pacers cut to within two points before the Knicks regained control and soon opened up a double digit advantage to take into the fourth. George made it a four point game with a 3-pointer but Anthony helped keep Indiana at bay and force another game with a ten point margin of victory. The Pacers were without Hill as George starred with a 23-6-6 display while Copeland helped the Knicks to an important win with 13 points off the bench in his first major contribution of the series.

Indiana lead the best-of-7-series 3-2.

GAME 6: NewYork 99-106 Indiana @ Bankers Life Fieldhouse

Indiana closed out the series at the second attempt to set up a clash with the reigning NBA Champions in the Conference Final. Stephenson had a career-Playoff high 25 points complimented by 10 rebounds while Hibbert had a 21-12 double-double as the Pacers defied the Knicks and Anthony‘s 39 point haul. After falling down 15-9 early on, New York recovered through Melo‘s 12 opening quarter points and a couple of triples from Pablo Prigioni although they still trailed 29-27 after one. The Knicks kept in touch until an 8-2 run gave the home side some breathing space and were still in control at the half, leading 55-47. Anthony then added 11 points to his growing tally at the start of the third before Shumpert caught fire with a trio of scores from beyond the arc in 12-2 run capped by a Smith 3-pointer that tied the game at 72. Shumpert then added another from downtown while ‘Melo’ went to 35 points with the game all-square at 81 heading into a crucial fourth. The visitors led at the halfway mark following a ‘JR’ triple but Stephenson stepped up with seven points in a pivotal 9-2 run which effectively sealed the game and the series.

Indiana win the best-of-7-series 4-2.

                                     Top 5 Players

  1. Paul George 19.5 ppg; 7.0 rpg; 5.0 apg
  2. Carmelo Anthony 28.5 ppg; 7.8 rpg
  3. David West 14.7 ppg; 7.8 rpg
  4. Roy Hibbert 13.3 ppg; 10.3 rpg; 3.2 bpg
  5. George Hill 16.2 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 4.4 apg
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Game Night! ft. NY Knicks @ OKC Thunder

Melo continues hot streak for Knicks while the Lakers faulter in play-off charge

Carmelo Anthony took his points total to 177 in his last four games with another 36 in New York’s 12th straight victory after beating OKC (56-21) 125-120. The Knicks 50-26) had a productive second quarter to inspire a 50th win this season with JR Smith netting some huge shots late on. Russell Westbrook had an impressive all-round performance for the Thunder with 37-11-8 although Oklahoma missed out on the chance to return to the top of the Western standings.

Knicks‘ centre Tyson Chandler (15pts) was delighted with the win:

“This was huge for us, it’s very hard to come into this building and get a win, I’m really proud of the way we kept fighting”

Serge Ibaka came out firing in the first quarter and had 9 points, 3 rebounds and 4 blocks after the opening 12 minutes as OKC opened up a slender 31-30 advantage. Chris Copeland came off the bench to score 11 points alongside Anthony in a dominant second quarter for the Knicks as they took control to lead 65-56 at the interval. OKC battled back and closed to within a point before Melo struck two triples late in the quarter and New York led 96-89 after three.

The hosts compiled a 13-4 burst in the final quarter capped by a Durant jumper as the Thunder took the lead at 105-104. Jason Kidd responded with his fourth 3-pointer of the game before soon after Westbrook took his tally to 30 points as OKC went up by one with 4:00 left. However, the visitors kept their streak alive with an 11-2 spell over the next three and a half minutes with Smith adding five points in quick succession before Melo sealed the win.

Anthony has now taken over as the leading scorer in the league with an average of 28.4 points per game

The Lakers (40-37) dropped outside of the play-off places after a 109-95 defeat against their LA rivals. CP3 (24pts/12as) and Blake Griffin (24pts/12rbs) both recorded double-doubles as the Clippers (51-26)completed a 4-0 sweep over the Lakers and won the Pacific Division title for the first time. Kobe Bryant did his best to lead his side to victory with 25 points and 10 assists while Dwight Howard matched his points haul in the absence of Steve Nash and Ron Artest.

Utah Jazz (41-37) capitalised on the Lakers’ defeat with a 97-90 win on the road against fellow play-off hopefuls, Golden State (44-33). Mo Williams led the way with 25 points while Steph Curry had 22 points for the Warriors as they missed out on a victory which would have secured their post-season spot. One team, in the West, already in the play-offs are Memphis and the Grizzlies (52-25) ground out a tough 89-87 on the road against Sacramento (27-50) after Marc Gasol (15p-10r) produced a late block to secure the win.

Dallas (38-39) kept alive their fading play-off hopes with a 97-91 victory against Portland (33-44), who launched a late fightback before falling short. The Mavericks were led by Chris Kaman’s double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds while Will Barton had a 22p-13r double-double for the Trail Blazers, who are already out of post-season contention following EIGHT straight defeats. Anthony Davis led the New Orleans Hornets (27-50) to a 95-92 win in Phoenix (23-54) with a 20 point haul.

Detroit (26-52) snapped an 18-game losing streak against the Chicago Bulls (42-34) with a 99-85 victory despite Carlos Boozer‘s 21p-10r double-double. The Bulls‘ defeat handed the Central Division title to the Indiana Pacers. Cleveland (24-52) used a strong final quarter to defeat Orlando Magic (19-59) 91-85 while the return of Paul Pierce inspired a 107-96 win for Boston (40-37) over the Washington Wizards (29-48).

Red-hot Melo drops 50 on the Heat

Carmelo Anthony tied his career-high points tally with 50 against Miami as the Knicks extended their win streak to nine games. New York’s timely run of form is helping them hold on to second place in the East as they battle the Indiana Pacers for the #2 seed. Check-out Melo in action below: (NBAyoutube)

Is Amar’e’s injury a blessing in disguise for the Knicks?

Missing men: Amar'e Stoudemire with Carmelo Anthony

Missing men: Amar’e Stoudemire with Carmelo Anthony

The New York Knicks have announced that Amar’e Stoudemire is expected to miss between 6-8 weeks due to knee surgery but how much of a blow will this be?

Even before the announcement was made Tyson Chandler claimed there is more to the Knicks than Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire and the 2013 All-Star could be half-right with that statement in terms of form on the court.

The New York franchise made a storming start to their 2012-13 campaign with a 21-9 record through November and December before a slump in form in the new year which coincided with the return of Stoudemire.

‘STAT’ made his return on New Year’s Day and played in just 29 games before another knee problem surfaced. The 6x All-Star averaged his lowest points total (14.2) since his rookie season for Phoenix Suns without counting the 2005-06 campaign when Stoudemire featured in just three games after undergoing microfracture surgery.

That’s not to say that 30 year-old has not been playing well because the Knicks have been cautious with his return and Stoudemire has not started a game this season but still managed to post 20+ points in a game on six occasions. The days of an occasional 3-pointer seem to have gone with the adapted role and his physical presence inside has seen a shooting percentage of 57.7 from the field.

However, when it comes to the play-offs, it’s important to have efficient squad depth and this period without Amar’e could work as a benefit for the Knicks as they utilise their fringe players while JR Smith will see his role off the bench increase. The likes of Kenyon Martin, Kurt Thomas and Marcus Camby will be expected to step up with an increase in their court-time.

One thing is for sure; head-coach Mike Woodson will want ‘Melo’ back playing as soon as possible because being second in the scoring charts around the likes of KD, LeBron and Kobe is no mean feat. Anthony has taken the game-high honours in 35 games so far this season which is an incredible achievement having played in a total of 50.

The Knicks do have other scoring options even without ‘Melo’ and ‘STAT’ with Smith showing his capability with a 36 point showing against OKC Thunder while Ray Felton top scored in the recent win against Utah. Chandler dominates the glass more often than not and their potency extends beyond the arc with Jason Kidd and Foot Locker 3-Point contestant Steve Novak dangers from long range.

The lead up to the play-offs will be an interesting period for New York as they jostle for position with the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern conference whilst looking to build some momentum ahead of the post-season. They are currently on course to emulate if not beat their 3rd place conference finish back in 2000 which was also the last time they progressed beyond the first round in the play-offs before falling to the Pacers in the Eastern final.

If ‘Melo’ hits the ground running on his return then the Knicks should be in a good position come the time of the play-offs with an adaptable roster all stepping up to the plate awaiting the return of Amar’e to boost their hopes for a first NBA Championship since 1973.

Game Time! Around the NBA

HOME WINS FOR HEAT, KNICKS & THUNDER WHILE CHICAGO & CLIPPERS FALL ON THE ROAD

Miami Heat (31-14) survived a resilient Charlotte Bobcats (11-36) to win 99-94 and remain at the top of the Eastern standings. Lebron James posted a near triple-double with 31 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists while Chris Bosh– 23 points- and Dwayne Wade– 20 points and 12 rebounds- added their usual support. The Bobcats- who now have the worst record in the league following the defeat- had a slender lead in the final quarter and former Laker Ramon Sessions top scored with 18 points.

STAT: Lebron James had a career high shooting percentage of 92.1 making 13/14 FG attempts.

New York Knicks (31-15) matched Miami‘s win tally for the season with a comfortable 99-85 home win against the Detroit Pistons (18-31). Carmelo Anthony had a game high 27 points with the damage done in the first half as the Knicks opened up a 21 point gap. Having received clearance just a few hours before tip-off, Jose Calderon top scored for Detroit with 18 points on his debut following his recent trade that ended an 8 year spell with the Raptors.

STAT: Tyson Chandler posted 20 rebounds for the third consecutive game to equal the franchise record for the Knicks.

Oklahoma (36-12) defeated Dallas (20-28) 112-91 after a dominant first half display helped the Thunder assert their authority. Russell Westbrook had 24 points and 7 assists with Kevin Durant contributing a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds in the victory. LA Clippers (34-16) lost ground on OKC in the Western standings following their third straight defeat as the Washington Wizards (12-35) picked up a 98-90 win. Blake Griffin was ruled out of the game prior to the tip-off to join Chris Paul on the sidelines and a 28 point haul from Jamal Crawford along with a career high 22 rebounds from DeAndre Jordan were unable to end the Clippers losing run.

STAT: Clippers have won just three of their last ten games as they struggle to cope without CP3.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 25 points and 13 boards to inspire the Portland Trail Blazers (25-23) to a close-fought 100-98 win against Minnesota (18-27). The Timberwolves battled back in the fourth to set up a tense finale; outscoring the visitors 40-23 before falling short. Aldridge came up with the block on Ricky Rubio– who had 15p and 14a- in the final seconds. Another all-Western clash went to the wire in Utah as the Jazz prevailed in overtime to beat Sacramento Kings (17-33) 98-91.

STAT: It was the fifth consecutive game that Aldridge posted a double-double.

Indiana Pacers (29-19) improved to the third best record in the East after adding insult to injuries for a depleted Chicago Bulls side. David West followed up his 30 point haul against Miami with another 29 to help Indiana to a 111-101 victory- their third in a row. Marco Belinelli had a season-high 24 points in just 24 minutes off the bench with Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich all sidelined. The final game saw the Philadelphia 76ers (21-26) win their third straight game as they make their push into the play-off positions; beating Orlando 78-61. Magic have now lost ten in a row with Spencer Dawes– 21p,14r- and Jrue Holiday– 13p,14a- enjoying double-doubles in the win.

STAT: A season-best performance from Dawes eclisping a 21p,12r display against Milwaukee (21/01/13).