Former Arizona Wildcat T.J. McConnell comes up big for Pacers in Game 4 win

May 12, 2024, 3:55 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm

Former University of Arizona guard T.J. McConnell again came up big for the Pacers in Game 4. (AP P...

Former University of Arizona guard T.J. McConnell again came up big for the Pacers in Game 4. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tyrese Haliburton scored 20 points, former Arizona Wildcats guard T.J. McConnell added 15 points and 10 assists and the Indiana Pacers rolled to their second-biggest playoff victory ever, beating the New York Knicks 121-89 on Sunday to even the Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

Haliburton also had six rebounds, five assists and four 3-pointers as the Pacers led by 43 points during a start-to-finish romp. They fell just short of their most lopsided playoff victory, when they beat Cleveland by 34 points in April 2018.

Game 5 of the series will be played Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

The Knicks put just three players in double figures. Alec Burks finished with 20, Jalen Brunson scored 18 — his fewest in this postseason — and Deuce McBride had 16 on a day they shot 33.7% from the field, 18.9% from 3-point range and faced the largest deficit by any team in this postseason.

Is was the fourth-largest margin of defeat in the postseason for the Knicks, who lost to the Bulls by 41 in 1991, 40 to the 76ers in 1978 and 35 to the Pistons in 1990.

And, naturally, the Pacers fed off the energy of a nearly full Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where they are now 5-0 with Game 6 coming to Indianapolis on Friday. Those watching from courtside included Indiana-born singer John Mellencamp, Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti and former Pacers stars Dale Davis and Derrick McKey.

They witnessed the most dominant performance in what had been a close series through the first three games.

New York produced its lowest-scoring quarter (14) and lowest-scoring half (41) in this year’s postseason and only led once, 2-0, for a total of 44 seconds.

Playing without four key players because of injuries — forwards OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic and Julius Randle, as well as center Mitchell Robinson — the Knicks looked fatigued in a short turnaround following Game 3 to the afternoon start.

And while Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo kept the Knicks competitive in each of the first three games, both struggled Sunday. Brunson missed his first five shots and the backcourt duo was a combined 9 of 30 from the field and 2 of 11 from 3-point range.

Indiana took the lead for good on Haliburton’s first 3 of the game and took control with a 29-7 first-quarter spurt that gave the Pacers a 34-11 lead.

New York never recovered. It cut the deficit to 36-19 early in the second only to see Indiana answer with 10 straight points and extend the cushion to 69-41 at halftime.

From there, things only got worse. Indiana extended the margin to 101-63 after three, a deficit that was so large both teams rested their starters the entire fourth quarter. Indiana has led by 43 or more points three times this season, handing the Knicks their first 43-point deficit since Dec. 5, 2019, against Denver, a span of 388 games.

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