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Knicks crank up "D," stay alive

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- It turns out the New York Knicks didn't need to employ a bigger lineup against the Indiana Pacers' massive frontcourt after all.

All the Knicks needed was some aggressive defense and a spark from their reserves to turn back the Pacers 85-75 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday at a sold-out Madison Square Garden.

The Pacers, who never led Thursday, lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is Saturday in Indianapolis.

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 28 points, and subs J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland provided energy off the bench with 13 points each.

Anthony has topped the Knicks in scoring in every game during the postseason.

Paul George scored a team-high 23 points for Indiana, which shot just 36 percent from the floor.

The Knicks bench outscored Indiana's subs 35-10.

"We moved the ball well, and Melo (Anthony) being aggressive makes it easy," Copeland said. "I'm extremely excited I can have some type of impact on the game."

After a one-game experiment starting 6-foot-11 Amar'e Stoudemire instead of 6-3 Pablo Prigioni produced a loss in Game 4, Knicks coach Mike Woodson returned to his original lineup.

Stoudemire played just seven minutes, scoring two points, while Prigioni was a catalyst early in the game with his playmaking. Prigioni contributed three assists and a steal before getting into foul trouble. He finished with three points and the three assists in 19 minutes.

"I'm sure him and Jason (Kidd) wanted to play more," Woodson said. "But the bottom line is we won tonight."

Kidd played only 5:20, taking just one shot, which he missed.

Game 5 was the most physical contest of the series. The Knicks were whistled for 30 fouls, but Indiana converted just 19 of 33 free throws.

"It was physical across the board," Woodson said. "I thought in the first half they came up with more loose balls, and then we picked it up in the second half."

George made only two of his six shots from the foul line.

"At the free-throw line, we weren't locked in," said George, who hit seven of 18 shots from the field. "We weren't focused, we allowed (the Knicks) to take us out of our offense."

Indiana got as close as 75-71 with 6:44 left, but the Knicks closed it out with a 10-4 burst.

Roy Hibbert, Indiana's 7-foot-2 center who dominated the first four games of the series with his shot-blocking and rebounding prowess, was in foul trouble Thursday. He came out with four fouls and Indiana trailing 49-44 with seven minutes left in the third.

With Hibbert on the bench, the Knicks went on a 10-4 run to increase their lead to 59-48 with 4:22 to go in the third, their largest margin of the game.

Hibbert finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

"It was the second-chance points," Woodson said. "Those two games (Games 3 and 4) we got outrebounded badly, and that was the difference. We were outrebounded tonight, but we had enough going for us defensively as well as our offense, so it didn't hurt."

The New York bench played a major role in the Knicks' 40-34 halftime lead. The reserves combined for 18 first-half points, with Smith leading the way with nine points.

Indiana, which trailed by as many as nine before intermission, scored its fewest first-half points of the series. David West paced Indiana with 11 points and six rebounds before the break. He finished with 17 points and 10 boards.

New York led 19-15 after the first quarter as neither team shot the ball well. The Knicks were 9-for-26, and the Pacers made just six of their 23 field-goal attempts.

Anthony, who converted seven of his 15 first-half shots, scored seven of the Knicks' first 11 points of the game on his mid-range jumper.

"It was just one of those nights," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "Every team in basketball has a night like this where you don't knock them down. To me, that's an encouraging thing. If we make our free throws, it's a different ballgame.

"I cautioned our guys that coning home and playing Game 6 isn't going to beat the Knicks. We have to play a much more determined and efficient basketball game."

NOTES: Pacers G George Hill was out for Game 5 with a concussion he suffered in Game 4 when he collided with Tyson Chandler. He was replaced in the starting lineup by D.J. Augustin, who scored 12 points. Hill is averaging 16 points, four rebounds and four assists in the playoffs. ... Kidd is 0-for-17 from the field in his last nine playoff games, dating back to the first round against Boston. ... Hibbert is third in the playoffs in blocked shots, averaging 2.3 per game. He had two blocks in Game 5.
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