PACERS GAME RELEASE
On the first night of a six-game homestand, Indiana opened with its best foot forward, blowing out the injury-riddled New York Knicks 115-97 on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The game seemed nearly out of reach for New York when Indiana (13-11) entered the halftime locker room leading by 26, but the Pacers weren’t done, opening the second half on what was essentially a game-ending 12-0 run, causing the Knicks (11-12) to empty their entire bench in a single substitution just minutes into the second half.
“It was about us tonight, coming out and trying to take care of business,” Pacers head coach Nate McMillan explained. “Playing a better game than we certainly played in New York; but a better game than our last two opponents.”
Thaddeus Young’s shot seemed to be magnetically drawn to the center of the cylinder during the Pacers victory, making 9-of-11 shots for a team-best 20 points on the night. Bojan Bogdanovic wasn’t far behind, adding 19 of his own on 7-of-11 shooting.
Indiana created its early lead by using a 31-point first quarter to take a 12-point edge into the second quarter. It was in the second frame that the Pacers flipped a switch as a team, sending The Fieldhouse into hysterics with a series of impressive team plays.
Victor Oladipo ran out in the open court and slammed home a pass from Darren Collison. Lance Stephenson canned a 3-pointer assisted by a cross-court pass from Myles Turner.
Moments later, Stephenson singlehandedly blew the lid off of The Fieldhouse, executing a series of crossovers that resulted in a floating layup at the rim. After the shot fell through the basket to put Indiana up 61-34, Stephenson ran along the sideline, high-fiving a fan sitting courtside as the Pacers continued to build a lead that would carry them the rest of the night.
“Lance brings such a different element to this team that just gasses everybody up and whenever he gets it going it just sparks us,” said Myles Turner at his locker after the win.
Leading by 26 at the break, the Pacers opened up the third quarter with unanswered buckets from Collison, Young, and Turner, opening up a chasm of an advantage against the Knicks, who trailed by 38 points at that point in the game.
After seeing his team fall victim to a 12-0 run to open the half, Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek subbed out all of his starters and put in a full bench unit to finish the quarter, which the Pacers still won 29-25.
In the fourth quarter, with both teams’ benches in the game, the Knicks managed to outscore Indiana by 12, winnowing the deficit down to 18 points before the final whistle blew.
“The battle just wasn’t there for us tonight,” lamented Hornacek. “I was happy to see that second group and those other guys that came in the second half, they just kept playing and played hard, and shared the ball. The group played well but Indiana was just better.”
The Knicks started the night at a disadvantage, playing on the second leg of a back-to-back and missing two of their most important starters — Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. — due to injuries.
Without two of its key players, New York’s defense was shredded by Indiana, which shot a blazing 54 percent of the evening, making nine 3-pointers in the first half alone.
Collison recorded a double-double in the winning effort, passing out 10 assists to go along with 10 points. With the game in hand early, Indiana was able to rest its starters, with Oladipo being the only Pacers starter that reached 30 minutes on the night.
The win snapped a two-game slide for the Pacers, who now sit two games above .500 in the crowded Eastern Conference. Indiana now sets its sights on game two of its homestand on Wednesday night, as they prepare for meeting with the division-rival Chicago Bulls.
Inside the Numbers
Seven Pacers scored in double-figures, with all five starters reaching 10 or more points.
Indiana passed out 28 assists as a team, its most since a 33 assist night against Miami on November 19th.
As a team, the Knicks shot just 6-of-23 from long range (26.1 percent)
You Can Quote Me On That
“We have a game to play and we have been in situations where we haven’t been healthy and you still have to play the game. It was about us tonight, coming out and trying to take care of business, playing a better game than we certainly played in New York; but a better game than our last two opponents. I thought tonight we had high energy on the defensive end of the floor. We’re scrapping, we were challenging every pass. Offensively we got our running game going and we were able to really attack. I thought we kept pressure on New York with both the first and second groups.” -Pacers head coach Nate McMillan
“That’s what a lot of teams are going towards, putting up a lot of threes and trying to get in transition and get a lot of layups. Hopefully we can continue to do that throughout the course of the season. Tonight was a good win for us and we have to look towards playing Chicago.” -Thaddeus Young
“They were quick at everything, they got steals, we had some careless turnovers, I think they had 30 points with four minutes to go in the first quarter already, started putting some subs in at that point, and they only scored one point the rest of the quarter, but they scored 30 points in the first eight minutes. You let them get going, the battle just wasn’t there for us tonight. I was happy to see that second group and those other guys that came in the second half, they just kept playing and played hard, and shared the ball. The group played well but Indiana was just better.” -Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek
Stat of the Night
The Pacers did serious damage to the Knicks in the fastbreak on Monday night, outscoring New York 31-5 in transition.
Domantas Sabonis finished his night with a double-double, scoring 12 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
No Pacers player took more than 11 shots on Monday night.
The Pacers lead the all-time series with the Knicks when playing in Indiana, 56-31
Indiana continues its season-long six-game homestand on Wednesday night as they square off with the Chicago Bulls.