The Indiana Pacers regained control of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the New York Knicks, thanks to aggressive play by Roy Hibbert and four quarters of lockdown defense, winning Game 3 82-71 and taking a 2-1 series lead.
While several Pacers, most notably Hibbert, bounced back from the Game 2 blowout, the Indiana defense was the star of the night. The Pacers held the Knicks to 34 percent shooting, but more importantly, they held New York to just 3-for-11 shooting from beyond the arc, way down from the 29 attempts they averaged during the regular season.
The turning point of the game came midway through the third quarter, when the Pacers stretched a three-point halftime lead to as large as 14. That quarter included a four minute scoreless stretch for the Knicks. While Hibbert and David West clogged the paint on defense, their play on offense sparked the Pacers to 26 third-quarter points.
Hibbert finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds in what was easily his most aggressive game of the playoffs. Whether it was Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin or a returning Amar'e Stoudemire, the Knicks had no answer for Hibbert, who showed an array of post moves and controlled the paint, collecting seven offensive rebounds. George Hill added 17 points, including three first quarter three pointers to start the game. Paul George had just 14 points on 4-for-15 shooting, but added eight assists, six rebounds and five steals. David West also had a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
While George got plenty of help from Hibbert and the rest of the Pacers' starters, the same could not be said for Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks, Anthony finished with 21 points, but no other starter finished double figures. Stoudemire returned from injury, scoring seven points and grabbing two rebounds in nine minutes of action. J.R. Smith, who almost missed the game due to a fever, struggled all game, finishing with nine points on 4-12 shooting.
Indiana started off the game as well as they could've hoped, jumping out to a 9-2 lead, thanks in part to a couple of Hill threes and a Paul George three. Indiana held New York to just 15 points in the opening quarter. The second quarter was where Hibbert and David West took over, bruising the Knicks inside on their way to a 31-20 rebound advantage in the first half.
Game 3 is Monday from Indianapolis at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on TNT.