Knicks nearly post biggest win, top Pacers 132-89
NEW YORK (AP)—This was a blowout—and that was after only the first few minutes.
By the end?
Wilson Chandler(notes) scored 23 points, David Lee(notes) added 22 points and 16 rebounds, and New York flirted with the biggest victory in franchise history in beating the Indiana Pacers 132-89 on Sunday night.
Danilo Gallinari(notes) finished with 20 points and eight rebounds for the Knicks, who led by 48 points—the largest lead in the NBA this season—and won for the 10th time in 15 games over the last month. Their second straight victory was never in doubt, as they quickly pounced on a team that had little energy on the second night of a back-to-back. New York led by double digits for nearly the final 44 minutes.
“They were tired and then we caught them, but then we also played well. Otherwise it’d be 10 or 15 points and you can make a case either way,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “But we played about as well as we could play and just really liked the ball movement, the unselfishness and just making the right plays.”
The Knicks’ largest victory is by 48 points, done three times. New York still led this one by 48 with 3:15 remaining. The previous largest lead in the NBA this season had been 45 by Golden State over Minnesota on Nov. 9, according to STATS LLC.
“It’s a different feeling trying to play when you have a 20-point lead,” Lee said. “It’s more difficult to extend that lead, and it could be easy to relax and let a team back in the game. But we didn’t do that tonight, we extended the lead and put the game away.”
Luther Head(notes) scored 18 points for the Pacers, who snapped an eight-game losing streak by beating Minnesota on Saturday but never had a chance for consecutive wins. With Troy Murphy(notes) resting a sprained left ankle and the demoted T.J. Ford(notes) sitting near him on the bench, the Pacers who did play were completely overmatched.
“It’s no fun to get behind 15, 20 points early on in the game,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien said. “We found ourselves digging holes early in games and generally we fight back and make it a ballgame, but we did not tonight.”
The Knicks opened a 9-0 lead and made eight of their first 11 shots, the last one emphatically. Gallinari faked a jumper and drove into the lane, rising over 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert(notes) as he came to help and slamming it down for a 20-5 lead.
Robinson entered a few minutes later to a loud ovation, his first home game since Dec. 1. He was nowhere near as sharp as he was Friday in Atlanta, when he was given a chance after being benched the previous 14 games and responded with 41 points in the Knicks’ 112-108 overtime victory over the Hawks.
He finished with only six and shot just 2 of 11, but he remains the most popular Knicks player—even among other popular New Yorkers. Shown on TV at halftime, actor Dustin Hoffman unfolded a picture of Robinson to show the camera.
“I’m so glad they put Nate back in,” Hoffman said during a halftime interview.
The Knicks didn’t get anything special from Robinson this time. Four players already had at least 14 points in New York’s highest-scoring first half of the season.
O’Brien made his own lineup shakeup, making Earl Watson(notes) the starting point guard, rookie A.J. Price(notes) his backup and dropping Ford from the rotation. The new lineup produced the victory over Minnesota, but Watson shot 4 of 12 for nine points Sunday. Price scored 11.
After racing to a 38-16 lead after one, the Knicks followed with their biggest second period of the season. They scored 36 in the quarter, with Chandler’s follow shot with 5.7 seconds left making it 74-42—at the time their largest lead of the season.
“They came out and they were hitting a lot of shots early,” Hibbert said. “We just didn’t do what we were supposed to do from the start. They played an extremely good game today.”
NOTES: The Knicks’ last 48-point victory was in a 130-82 rout of Philadelphia on April 21, 1994. … The Knicks tied a season low with nine turnovers. … The Knicks outrebounded the Pacers 55-34, their largest rebounding margin of the season.