NBA playoffs

Handling business: Pacers blast Knicks to even series 2-2


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Handling business: Pacers blast Knicks to even series 2-2

ROAR. Indiana Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) celebrates a made basket while New York Knicks guard Alec Burks (18) defends during game four of the second round for the 2024 NBA playoffs at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Tyrese Haliburton and the Pacers claim their 10th straight home victory dating back to the regular season as they win back-to-back games against the Knicks

Tyrese Haliburton scored 20 points as the Indiana Pacers breezed to a 121-89 victory over the New York Knicks in Indianapolis to even their Eastern Conference semifinal series at two wins apiece on Sunday, May 12 (Monday, May 13, Manila time).

The sixth-seeded Pacers rode a sizzling start en route to recording their second straight victory overall and 10th in a row at home dating back to the regular season. Game 5 of the best-of-seven series is Tuesday in New York.

Indiana’s T.J. McConnell collected 15 points and 10 assists, former Knicks draft pick Obi Toppin and Pascal Siakam each had 14 points, and Myles Turner added 13. The Pacers led by as many as 23 points in the first quarter and 30 toward the end of the second.

“At the end of the day, we did our job and won both games at home,” Haliburton said. “Now going back to the Garden, we have to be prepared to go for 48 minutes when we get there.

“We just handled business from start to finish. I think it speaks to the maturation of this group that we’ve seen all year.”

Indiana shot a robust 56.8% from the floor (50 of 88) and 45.2% from three-point range (14 of 31), while holding a 60-40 edge in points in the paint. Second-seeded New York, in turn, made just 7 of 37 attempts from beyond the arc (18.9%).

“We had better concentration and focus,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Our habits were better. We got a good start and were able to sustain a lot of good things throughout. But there’s such a long way to go (in the series).”

“Every game is monumentally important. Getting down 0-2 is difficult. It’s a big hole. Coming home doesn’t guarantee anything. Second round always ramps up.”

Alec Burks scored 20 points off the bench and Jalen Brunson added 18 while sitting out the fourth quarter. Miles McBride had 16 points for the undermanned Knicks, who played their second straight game without OG Anunoby (hamstring).

“Whether you lose by one or you lose by 30, it’s a loss. You have to respond the right way,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It’s not just OG. OG was out for a good chunk of the season, so that’s no excuse.”

Donte DiVincenzo drained a three-pointer to shave Indiana’s lead to 24-11 late in the first quarter before the Pacers answered with 10 straight points. Toppin had a hand in all 10, as he made a short jumper, set up rookie Ben Sheppard’s three-pointer, connected from beyond the arc himself, and converted McConnell’s alley-oop to give Indiana a 34-11 lead.

The Pacers didn’t let their foot off the gas in the second quarter. They pushed their advantage to 69-39 when Haliburton drained a stepback three-pointer, and then Burks made a pair of free throws just before halftime.

Indiana scored 13 of the first 19 points of the third quarter to go ahead 82-47. The Pacers’ lead did not shrink below 31 points the rest of the way. –

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