No matter. The Indiana Pacers just won it with defense.
T.J. Ford(notes) scored eight of his 16 points in the final 3:12, and the Pacers won for the first time this season, holding the New York Knicks without a field goal for the final 9-plus minutes Wednesday night in a 101-89 victory.
“That has to be the signature of our team, that regardless of what we’re doing on the offensive end, we can always stop you on the defensive end, and we did that tonight,” Granger said.
Dahntay Jones(notes) had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers (1-3), who came in as one of the NBA’s three winless teams and had lost all three games by double digits. Roy Hibbert(notes) added 15 points and 14 rebounds.
Brandon Rush(notes) had 12 points and 10 rebounds as the Pacers pulled it out despite losing Granger, who led them with 21 points, to fouls with 3:38 remaining. Indiana forced New York to miss its final 12 shots.
“I’m happy things worked that we’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks and to know that our defense can anchor us,” said Jones, a defensive stopper last season for Denver who helped Indiana hold New York’s starting backcourt of Chris Duhon(notes) and Larry Hughes(notes) to 6 of 23 shooting. “We were communicating and getting stops and trying to dig out rebounds.”
“Our problems in this game started and ended on the offensive end,” Lee said. “We talk a lot about our defense, but our offense in the second half, for us to shoot under 40 percent isn’t a good sign.”
The Pacers turned to their defense without starting forward Troy Murphy(notes), who bruised his lower back in a hard fall during a 111-93 loss to Denver on Tuesday night. They are already without another top player, Mike Dunleavy Jr., who is recovering from surgery on his right knee.
“Our guys are in terrific condition to be able to play that hard in the second half after playing back-to-back nights,” Indiana coach Jim O’Brien said. “It shows how hard they worked up to this point.”
Hibbert tied it at 76 early in the fourth, then Granger made a 3-pointer to give the Pacers the lead for good. Wilson Chandler’s(notes) jumper with 9:20 left made it a one-point game, but the Knicks were shut out from the field the rest of the night.
The fourth-quarter debacle came after the Knicks had averaged 40.5 points in the fourth quarters of their previous two games. They managed only 33 points in the second half Wednesday.
“For whatever reason, it seems every time we get stuck or whatever, instead of having a little more determination or patience, we just jack one up and that kind of got us in trouble in the second half,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said.
New York stayed within four points by making numerous trips to the line until Ford’s jumper made it 93-87 with 3:12 to go. Ford followed with two free throws for an eight-point lead, and after Harrington hit two free throws, Ford knocked down another jumper to put it away at 97-89 with 48 seconds remaining.
The Pacers committed seven turnovers in the first quarter, but still trailed only 25-21 after both teams shot under 40 percent. The offenses picked up in the second, with Harrington scoring 10 points and New York hitting 62 percent to take a 56-50 halftime lead.
The Knicks led by seven late in the third quarter before the Pacers scored the final six points of the period. Granger made a 3-pointer, but the other points were on free throws that pulled Indiana within 74-73 heading to the fourth.
Indiana was 8 of 12 from the line in the third quarter. New York shot none.
NOTES: O’Brien said he didn’t know how long Murphy would be out, but said the forward had trouble putting his shoes on Wednesday. … The Knicks are in a stretch where they play seven of eight games at home. … Hibbert has double-doubles in his last two games, the first two of his career.