Knicks can't stop red-hot shooting Pacers, fall 130-109 as NY eliminated in Game 7

The Knicks battled through injuries all season and proved their resiliency time and time again, but their mettle and luck ran out Sunday as the Indiana Pacers shot the lights out at Madison Square Garden in Game 7, as New York's season came to an end in a 130-109 loss.

The Pacers set an NBA record for the best shooting performance in playoff history, knocking down 67.1 percent from the field (53-for-79).

The Knicks got OG Anunoby and Josh Hart in the starting lineup, but the former mustered only a brief cameo and the latter could not provide his usual impact or do anything to halt the hot-shooting visitors who connected on 29 of their first 38 attempts (including eight threes).

Jalen Brunson struggled, scoring 17 points on 6-for-17 shooting with nine assists before he exited the game in the third quarter and was soon ruled out with a fractured left hand.

Tyrese Haliburton led the Pacers with 26 points, pouring in six threes, and dishing out six assists. Donte DiVincenzo led the Knicks with 39 points shooting 11-for-21 (9-for-15 from three).

Here are the takeaways...

- Anunoby, making his first appearance since he injured his left hamstring 11 days prior in Game 2, appeared to move around very gingerly in the early minutes. But he connected on a three with his first shot before knocking down a fallaway jumper late in the shot clock.

However, the defense from Anunonby and the rest of the Knicks couldn’t match the visitors' pace in the early goings and Indiana made them pay, converting seven of their first eight attempts (including three buckets from Anunoby's assignment Pascal Siakam) for a 16-10 lead forcing a Tom Thibodeau timeout five minutes in. Miles McBride, who started the previous two games, would enter for Anunoby, who did not feature for the remainder of the contest.

Hart, starting less than 48 hours after sustaining a strained abdomen in Game 6, was clearly not himself providing two points, two rebounds and three assists in the quarter, but was lacking his explosiveness.

DiVincenzo knocked down three of his first four attempts from behind the arc and led the Knicks with 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting in the first quarter and kept New York in the back-and-forth contest as Indiana started 10-for-11 from the floor.

However, Haliburton, who had been criticized for lacking offensive assertiveness in the previous games at MSG, was not going to let that be the narrative for Game 7: He knocked down four straight buckets (three from beyond the arc) to push the Pacers' lead to 12 points with two minutes to play in the first.

New York finished the period 11-for-24 (46 percent) from the floor, but Indiana was a lights-out 16-for-21 (76 percent) and knocked down seven of nine from deep for a 39-27 lead with Haliburton scoring 14 points (with four threes) and adding three assists.

Brunson had hit a fallaway jumper in the lane for the game’s first points, but finished the first with six points (3-for-8 shooting) with five assists.

- Things only got worse for the Knicks at the start of the second as the Pacers made their first four shots, the Knicks committed a pair of turnovers, and the Indiana lead was 18 points when Thibodeau had to call his third timeout of the half. The break didn't help, as the lead was 22 less than a minute later and the Garden crowd’s enthusiasm had dissipated.

Alec Burks answered with 10 points in the second to spark the crowd, but he was the only New York player to make a field goal over the first 6:46 of the period, and Indiana maintained a significant lead as it started 10-for-12 from the floor.

Burks finished the quarter with 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting, but outside of him, the Knicks had nothing on offense as Brunson, Hart, DiVincenzo and McBride combined to go 2-for-10 in the second, and the halftime deficit was 15 points as the Pacers shot 76 percent from the floor (13-for-17) for the second straight quarter.

- The Knicks missed their first five shots to start the second half but forced two turnovers on the defensive end and scored seven straight to cut the lead to single digits and the Garden roared into life.

The deficit got as small as six after a Hart layup with 8:06 to play, but the Pacers pushed the lead back to a dozen under three minutes later after a pair of missed jumpers and turnovers forcing another Thibs timeout.

The Pacers put together a 9-0 run with a pair of sloppy Knicks turnovers on in-bounds and while Indiana cooled off, they still made 59 percent of their shots (13 of 22) and the lead was 17 entering the fourth after an Obi Toppin tip-in.

Late in the period, Brunson swiped at Haliburton as the Pacers guard attempted a lay-up and his left hand struck Haliburton’s knee. Brunson exited the game and was later ruled out with a fractured hand.

- Without Brunson, the Knicks made a few shots and cut the lead to 13 with 6:28 to play, but got no closer.

Hart managed to play 37 minutes before he fouled out, finishing with 10 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Burks finished with 26 points on 8-for-13 shooting (including 8-for-8 from the line) but was a minus-9 in 27 minutes.

Game MVP: Tyrese Haliburton

With a strong second place to Siakam, who poured in 20 points early and made eight of his 15 attempts, the outcome of the game and series rested on Haliburton putting together a huge performance and he did just that. He was a game-high plus-21 (tied with TJ McConnell).


What's Next

The 2024 NBA Draft will be held on June 27. The Knicks have the No. 24 (via Dallas) and No. 25 picks in the first round and No. 38 (via Utah) in the second round.