Knicks edge 76ers, book NBA 2nd round clash with Pacers

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Tyrese Haliburton;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Tyrese Haliburton</a> of the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Indiana Pacers;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Indiana Pacers</a> reacts after a dunk while <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Milwaukee;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Milwaukee</a>'s <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Malik Beasley;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Malik Beasley</a> looks on during the Pacers' series-clinching victory over the Bucks in game six of their NBA Eastern Conference first round playoff series (Dylan Buell)

Jalen Brunson scored 41 points and the New York Knicks held on for a 118-115 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday, clinching a 4-2 series win to book an NBA playoffs second-round clash with the Indiana Pacers.

The Pacers powered into the Eastern Conference semi-finals with a convincing 120-98 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks that sealed their 4-2 series win.

It came down to the wire in Philadelphia, where Knicks forward Josh Hart, fed by Brunson, drilled a three-pointer to put New York up 114-111 with 25.6 seconds remaining.

Sixers star Joel Embiid cut the deficit to one with a driving layup seconds later but then fouled out and the Knicks polished it off with free throws from Donte DiVincenzo and Brunson.

Brunson said that after failing to close out the 76ers at home in game five, the Knicks knew they needed a faster start in this one.

They led by 22 points in the first quarter, only to see the 76ers claw back to lead by three at halftime and push their advantage to as many as 10 in the third quarter.

"Obviously they fought back and took the lead, but that good start helped us," he said. "The way we kept fighting, that's what we've been talking about all year -- just making sure we keep fighting no matter what.

"No matter what the situation is, we're going to stick together, we're going to fight."

Brunson added 12 assists, DiVincenzo scored 23 points with two steals and three blocked shots and OG Anunoby contributed 19 points.

Hart finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds and heard the cheers rain down from Knicks fans who made the trek to Philadelphia, despite the fact that the 76ers owners bought 2,500 tickets on the secondary market to try and limit the invasion of New York supporters that irked Embiid during game four.

Embiid, last season's Most Valuable Player whose campaign was disrupted by knee surgery in February, scored 39 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

Buddy Hield added 20 points but Tyrese Maxey, who scored 46 in Tuesday's series-extending victory, was held to 17.

The Knicks, through to the second round for the second straight season, will host the Pacers in game one of their series on Monday.

Unable to close out the depleted Bucks on Tuesday, the Pacers got their uptempo offense flowing again, relentlessly pulling away after trailing by seven in the opening minutes in Indianapolis.

All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton delivered a double-double of 17 points and 10 assists, but it was reserve guard Obi Toppin leading the Pacers scoring with a career playoff high 21 points.

- Pacers perseverance -

T.J. McConnell added 20 points off the bench along with nine assists and four steals as the Pacers reserves contributed a whopping 50 points.

"I'm so proud of the perseverance," Haliburton said of Toppin and McConnell. "Obviously neither of them had a really good game last game -- none of us did. We just responded the right way."

Indiana led by 12 at halftime, and after the Bucks cut the deficit to seven on a Brook Lopez layup with 1:05 left in the third the Pacers authored an 11-0 scoring run and romped away in the final period.

Eight-time All-Star Damian Lillard returned from a two-game injury absence and led the Bucks with 28 points.

Lopez and Bobby Portis scored 20 points apiece, but with two-time NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo still sidelined by the calf injury suffered late in the regular season the Bucks couldn't find an answer.

The Bucks, who won the title in 2021, lost in the first round for the second straight season after falling to Miami last year.

The Pacers hadn't won a playoff series since 2014, when they reached the Eastern Conference finals.