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Pacers dominate on defense to take Game 1 against Knicks

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The Indiana Pacers dominated in the low post and the perimeter, securing a 102-95 win over the New York Knicks in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Game 2 is Tuesday in New York.

The Pacers scored 46 points in the paint, blocked eight shots and shot 36 percent from 3-point range, placing six players in double figure scoring.

Indiana also held a 44-30 edge in rebounds.

David West led Indiana with 20 points, Paul George scored 19, D.J. Augustin chipped in with 16 off the bench and Roy Hibbert and George Hill added 14 points apiece.

Lance Stephenson, a powerful 6-5 shooting guard who grew up a few subway stops from Madison Square Garden and helped Lincoln win four New York City public high school championships, played a solid game for Indiana, contributing 11 points and 13 rebounds.

"The past three games Lance has been one of our best players," said George. "When he is playing at that level we are a tough team. We feed off his energy anytime he plays at that level."

Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 27 points and 11 rebounds despite being in foul trouble, and Raymond Felton added 17.

Both teams appeared sluggish after just one day of rest following the quarterfinal series finales for both of them. The Knicks committed 10 turnovers and Indiana turned the ball over 16 times.

A total of 41 personal fouls were whistled against both teams with Knick center Tyson Chandler fouling out with 2:36 left in the game. George fouled out with 50.7 seconds remaining.

The Knicks trailed by as many 16 points early in the fourth quarter and never got closer than the final score. Anthony, who has led the Knicks in scoring in every game during the playoffs, scored 15 of his team's 30 points in the quarter.

Anthony picked up his fourth foul with Indiana leading 60-54 at the 7:48 mark of the third. The Pacers took advantage of the void, outscoring the Knicks 21-11 to end the quarter with an 81-65 cushion with Anthony on the bench the entire time.

The front line of Hibbert, George and West was particularly effective in the third, combining for three blocked shots and eight rebounds.

"We are a grind-it-out physical team," said the 7-2 Hibbert. "We try to wear people down.

"Melo (Anthony) is one of the best. I've watched film on him and when he attacks me, he likes to tip the ball right back in if he misses. It's a tough matchup and luckily I was straight up."

Indiana overcame a five-point first-quarter deficit to lead 52-46 at the half. Its quick ball movement around the perimeter produced numerous open looks for George and Augustin.

The Pacers buried three of their four 3-pointers in the quarter, with Augustin accounting for seven points in 4:15. George added five points, including a wide-open trey with 12 seconds left in the quarter that advanced the lead to six points.

Anthony struggled in the first half, knocking down only five of his 13 shots from the floor.

Felton dominated the first quarter with his distribution, penetration and perimeter shooting. He helped the Knicks to a 27-22 lead with 12 points. Indiana turned the ball over five times in the quarter, three by reserve Sam Green in 2:22.

The Knicks' backup center, 35-year-old Kenyon Martin, played 24:34, the most action he's seen in this post-season. Martin scored 12 points, but committed four fouls as Knicks coach Mike Woodson tried to counter Indiana's size with the 6-9 Martin next to the 7-1 Chandler.

"We have to put some sets in come tomorrow that will help the two of them playing together," Woodson said. "We haven't played a lot minutes with the two bigs in like that this season."

The Knicks may get some front-court strength for later in the series should 6-11 Amar'e Stoudemire return from his knee injury. Woodson indicated Stoudemire might be available for Game 3.

"On Thursday and Friday, we'll put a group together and scrimmage," Woodson said of his projected plan with Stoudemire. "Based on how he feels after Thursday's work, we'll have him test it again Friday.

"If he feels fine after Friday, I think he'll be playing Saturday."

NOTES: The Knicks and the Pacers have met six times in the postseason before this season, with each team winning three series. ... Pacers reserve forward Jeff Pendergraph was fined $5,000 by the league for flopping during a 106-86 victory over the Hawks in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Pendergraph launched himself backward, pretending to be fouled by Josh Smith in the low post. ... The Knicks held Boston to an average of 82.3 points in their series quarterfinal win, the lowest figure among playoff teams. ... The Knicks were without 3-point specialist Steve Novak, who was out with back spasms... Anthony averaged 29.2 points in the Celtic series, but in the last three games he converted just 25 of his 82 shots (30.5 percent), including a stretch where he missed 19 straight 3-pointers.

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