This one had a really familiar feel for a while there, but it took a precipitous turn in the fourth quarter. Just as they had in a back-to-back series a few weeks prior, the New York Knicks started slowly against the Indiana Pacers, but accelerated to a big lead in the second and third quarters. Carmelo Anthony, bearing the brunt of the scoring burden with Amar'e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin still absent, dominated everyone he faced and, with the help of some active defense from his teammates, built the Knicks yet another double-digit lead over Indiana. This time, though, the Pacers had a counter-punch in store, and staged a massive comeback to take an uplifting home win, 112-104.
After both teams came out scoring effortlessly, the Knicks tightened its defense in the second and third quarters. They kept the Pacers out of the paint and limited offensive rebounds, following empty Indiana possessions with transition buckets or isolation excellence from Anthony. New York's top scorer poured in a season-high 39 points over a succession of bigger defenders -- David West, Tyler Hansbrough, and several others -- and actually passed Knicks legend (and announcer) Walt Frazier on the all-time scoring list. Anthony had help, too, in the form of a slump-busting 15-point outing from Landry Fields and a huge performance on the offensive glass by Tyson Chandler.
New York was cruising by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, and perhaps that was the problem. The Knicks, with its starters shuffling back onto the floor, eased up somewhat and watched the Pacers storm all the way back. Indiana lost David West in the third after a hard flagrant foul by Iman Shumpert, so Frank Vogel opted to go all-out with a small-ish bench lineup, leaving George Hill, Leandro Barbosa, and Lou Amundson to take the game home. Anthony struggled to score over quicker defenders and the Knicks turned to stones on offense. Meanwhile, Indiana's half-bench lineup exploded for a 40-point quarter. Danny Granger drilled three three-pointers and scored 14 of his 27 points in the period, and the Pacers as a team reasserted itself on the offensive boards to command possession of the ball.
Indiana came all the way back from 15 down, then padded its lead behind some silly fouls by J.R. Smith in the final minute (one of which, a standing take-down of Barbosa, got him ejected). Their 40-17 blowout of a fourth quarter included a 20-2 run and saw the Pacers score as many points off free throws as the Knicks did overall.
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