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Knicks Blow Late Lead, Lose in OT

NEW JERSEY 101.5

Paul George made three throws to tie it with 5.2 seconds left in regulation, then scored nine of his season-high 35 points in overtime as the Indiana Pacers pulled out a 103-96 victory Wednesday night over the New York Knicks, who dropped their sixth straight at home.

J.R. Smith, New York Knicks
J.R. Smith of the New York Knicks can’t keep the ball in bounds against the Indiana Pacers at Madison Square Garden in New York City. (Bruce Bennett, Getty Images)

New York scored the first 13 points, but this settled into a playoff-type game between teams who met in the postseason last May. And it again went to the Pacers, who bounced back from their first loss after a franchise-record 9-0 start.

George Hill added 23 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who beat the Knicks in six games in last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Just as in the clincher of that series, Roy Hibbert had a pivotal block on Carmelo Anthony’s drive to the basket.

Anthony had 30 points and 18 rebounds for the Knicks, who looked completely deflated after they couldn’t score following the free throws George made when Iman Shumpert was called for fouling him.

George then put away the Knicks in overtime, keeping them winless at home since beating Milwaukee on Oct. 30 in their season opener.

J.R. Smith had 21 points, and Beno Udrih scored a season-high 19 for the Knicks, including a go-ahead shot with 1:21 left in regulation when he appeared to just throw it at the rim when Anthony couldn’t get free. The Knicks protected the lead through a couple of missed 3-pointers by Hill, and Anthony made two free throws for an 89-86 lead with 9.2 seconds left.

Shumpert was then called for the foul on George, with replays showing what appeared to be perhaps just a slight touch to George’s arm. The All-Star sank the free throws, and Anthony missed on the other end, and Smith was off on a tip attempt.

The stunned Knicks walked back to the bench as if they had just lost — and pretty soon, they had.

George followed Hibbert’s block with a 3-pointer, and followed Anthony’s basket with four straight points to put the Pacers in control.

The Knicks were again without injured starters Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton. Amare Stoudemire also didn’t play on the second night of the back-to-back, coach Mike Woodson saying the forward isn’t cleared for the 20-25 minutes per night he wants to play.

They now go on a four-game road trip, perhaps what they need with their inability to win on their home floor.

George was two shy of his career high, bouncing back well from a season-low 12 points on 3-for-14 shooting in a 110-94 loss at Chicago that ended Indiana’s perfect start.

The Knicks jumped to a 13-0 lead while Indiana missed its first seven shots. The Pacers were only 5 for 20 in the first quarter, but one of the makes was Hibbert’s ugly, banked 3-pointer that beat the buzzer and cut it to 19-14.

New York was ahead 42-37 at the half and never trailed by more than four until overtime.

The teams were evenly matched last season, only minutes from heading to a Game 7 until Hibbert’s sensational, momentum-shifting block on Anthony’s dunk attempt late in Game 6. Indiana went on to force Miami to seven games in the East finals and is intent on doing better this season.

As for the Knicks, they went on to instability, changing general managers and much of their roster. Now that injuries have followed, they’ve been unable to match their strong start last season, certainly not able to keep pace with Indiana’s blistering start.

This was a much better performance from the Knicks, who had been critical of their own effort and were coming off a loss in Detroit a night earlier, but not good enough.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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