NEW YORK, N.Y. – Carmelo Anthony hung from the rim, the helpless defender who tried to stop his dunk lying on the court below after falling down.
Pretty soon, Anthony’s jumper was falling, too.
Once that happened, the New York Knicks blew away the Indiana Pacers with a performance that resembled something from earlier this season, not this series.
Anthony scored 32 points, 16 during a 30-2 New York onslaught in the second half, and the Knicks beat the Pacers 105-79 on Tuesday night to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game.
“I think for the most part from the start of the game and throughout the whole game, I think we played with a sense of urgency today,” Anthony said. “We played the way we’ve been playing as far as competing at the highest level.”
Iman Shumpert added 15 points, including a sensational follow dunk in the first half, and Raymond Felton scored 14 as the Knicks turned a close game into a blowout over the final 15 minutes.
Paul George scored 20 points for the Pacers, who had a two-point lead and momentum when coach Frank Vogel called timeout with a little more than 3 minutes left in the third quarter.
By the time the Pacers got on the board in the final period, the Knicks had opened a 26-point advantage.
“The fourth quarter we just defensively, we picked up,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “We kept getting stop after stop and then we would rebound the ball and get it up and our offence began to flow like old times. It was kind of nice to see.”
Game 3 is Saturday at Indianapolis.
It was the first time the Knicks scored 100 points in a playoff game since June 9, 1999, when they beat the Pacers 101-94. It was New York’s largest margin of victory in the post-season since a 109-75 rout of Detroit on April 24, 1992, according to information provided by ESPN Stats and Info to the Knicks.
David West scored 13 points for the Pacers, who committed 21 turnovers that led to 32 points, negating their height advantage that loomed so large in their Game 1 victory.
Indiana had trailed most of the night before taking a 64-62 lead on George Hill’s 3-pointer with 3:28 left in the third quarter that capped a 10-4 run, the Pacers seeming to have all the momentum.
Vogel then called timeout with a little more than 3 minutes left and subbed out centre Roy Hibbert.
Seeing the middle open, Anthony came back attacking, first with a drive and then a dunk while drawing a foul that knocked over Hibbert’s replacement, Jeff Pendergraph, and the game was never the same.
“It was our timeout,” Vogel said. “I usually use that situation to put something in while we have the ball.”
New York closed the period on a 10-2 run, Pablo Prigioni opened the fourth with a 3-pointer and a jumper in the lane, drawing chants of “Pablo! Pablo!” and then Anthony put it away.
He hit a jumper and a 3-pointer, and after Tyson Chandler’s follow dunk, the NBA’s scoring leader converted a three-point play and drilled another 3-pointer before another basket by Chandler made it 92-66, extending the run to 30-2.
“Melo just caught fire,” George said.
Tyler Hansbrough got the Pacers on the board with two free throws with 4:48 left, and the Pacers finally made a field goal when reserve Orlando Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 3:07 to go after Vogel had started emptying his bench.
Prigioni and Kenyon Martin finished with 10 points apiece as the Knicks endured another dreadful game from Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith, who was 3 of 15 for eight points.
Anthony had shot 35 for 110 over his previous four games but broke out of his slump Tuesday, going 13 of 26 and adding nine rebounds as the Knicks, pummeled on the boards in Indiana’s 102-95 victory in Game 1, finished with a 37-35 advantage.
Indiana had a 44-30 advantage on the boards Saturday. The Game 1 winner won all of the six series these teams played between 1993-00, but the Knicks refused to panic, with Woodson not considering a change to a bigger lineup to match the Pacers’ size.
It wasn’t needed.
“I think we just made a point to team rebound,” Chandler said.
The Knicks scored seven straight points midway through the first quarter and led 29-20 at the end of the period. But unlike in Game 1, they extended the lead for much of the second.
They got the lead to 11 a couple of times early in the period, once emphatically when Shumpert darted into the lane when Chris Copeland shot a 3-pointer from the other side of the floor, went unchecked toward the rim and grabbed the rebound with one hand and threw it down powerfully, a play that had the Madison Square Garden crowd still buzzing a few minutes later.
“I think I was trying to make a statement,” said Shumpert, who didn’t even play until midseason after tearing his ACL in last year’s playoff opener. “I just wanted to win this game real bad. We needed this game.”
Shumpert’s jumper late in the quarter capped an 8-0 run and extended the Knicks’ lead to 47-34 with 3:46 remaining, but West made a basket before George scored the final six points, his 3-pointer cutting it to 47-42 with 1:16 left, and neither team scored the rest of the way.
Indiana committed 12 turnovers that led to 20 points in the half.
Notes: The Pacers’ only previous Game 1 win in New York had been exactly 18 years earlier, when Reggie Miller scored eight points in the closing seconds to stun the Knicks in a 107-105 victory. Miller worked this game as an analyst for TNT, talking to Knicks fan Spike Lee before the game. … Woodson said Amare Stoudemire had no setbacks Tuesday after playing in 3-on-3 scrimmages Monday, and the hope is still for him to return from right knee surgery on Saturday. … Indiana has a 19-18 lead in total games won in the playoff rivalry.
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