Pacers take series lead with win over Knicks, 82-71
INDIANAPOLIS -- Pacers center Roy Hibbert scored a career playoff-high 22 points and hauled in 12 rebounds to lead Indiana to a 82-71 win against New York on Saturday. The Pacers lead the Eastern Conference second-round series 2-1.
Of his 12 boards, 7'2" Hibbert pulled down eight on the offensive end, fighting through the Knicks interior line and contributing to the Pacers' 20-10 advantage on second-chance points, 15 of them from Hibbert.
"The mantra I had before tonight was, 'Tonight is my night. Tonight is my night,'" Hibbert said. "I just wanted to be around the rim, tipping balls in, creating extra possessions and try to be aggressive. I work after practice every day on hooks -- left, right, running -- and they were falling for me tonight."
After the game, Knicks coach Mike Woodson repeatedly called it an ugly game, which meant to him the teams weren't getting to the rim or making open shots.
This was exactly how the Pacers like to play.
"Our guys usually do what we emphasize," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "We know that if you take the three-point ball away from this team they're going to struggle to score. You don't want to do it at the expense of giving up things at the rim ... but we were able to guard the paint and the three-point line."
Neither team climbed above 35 percent on field goal attempts, which gave an advantage to the team getting to the free throw line, making threes and grabbing rebounds.
Indiana, led by Hibbert, did all three.
The Pacers out-rebounded the Knicks 53-40, outshot them from three (10-for-33 to 3-for-11) and held even in free throws.
Indiana's leading scorer, forward Paul George, was limited to just 14 points, but he also had a near triple-double (eight assists, eight rebounds) and matched up with Knicks all-star Carmelo Anthony throughout the game.
Anthony finished with 21 points, but he did so making just 6-of-16 shots from the field.
Hibbert was on the court for a playoff-high 40 minutes and said slowing Anthony down was even more important than his contributions on offense.
He said George and himself were required to be in the game whenever Anthony was on the court, even subbing themselves in when Anthony went to the scorers' table.
"I was trying to be there every possession he had the ball and make things tough for him," Hibbert said. "I wanted to protect the rim as much as possible. That's what they give me the big bucks for."
Indiana's defensive rotations bothered the Knicks, but the visitors also failed to move the ball quickly with passes. Most of New York's baskets were from players driving one-on-one, then pulling up before getting to Hibbert.
On the other end, the Pacers swung to ball to open shooters seemingly every trip down the court.
This difference didn't mean much, as neither team could make shots anyway. Still, making 30 percent from three is more effective than making 35 percent from two.
The two teams had a four-day layoff before game three, which may have contributed to the sloppy play. With another two days off before game four, there may still not be a chance to get into a rhythm. The benefit is that extra preparation can come from extra time off.
"It'll be different in game four," Anthony said. "We'll make our adjustments, I'll make my adjustments."
The Pacers host game four on Tuesday at 8 p.m.