NEW YORK (AP) — The Indiana Pacers looked like a team fighting for a playoff spot. The New York Knicks looked like the team with the league’s worst record.
The Pacers stayed within striking distance of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot when they defeated the Knicks 102-86 on Wednesday night.
George Hill led the Pacers (35-43) with 20 points. Roy Hibbert had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” Hibbert said. “Coach (Frank Vogel) has been playing three centers so that means not as many minutes for myself so I’m just trying to go out there and make the best of the minutes that I do have.”
The win tied the Pacers with the Miami Heat, one game off the final playoff spot behind the Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets.
“We need them all at this point in the year,” Vogel said. “We know we were behind the eight ball. It’s an uphill battle. We’re going to need some losses from other teams. We can’t control that; we’ve just got to control what we can control and that’s taking care of our own business and get another win.”
Langston Galloway led the Knicks (15-63) with 19 points.
“They want to win bad,” Galloway added. “They’re trying to get into the playoffs. We just had to be ready for it and tonight we let ourselves get behind the 8-ball and just couldn’t answer the bell.”
The Pacers road a suffocating defense that held the Knicks to 34.5 percent shooting and outrebounded New York 54-34.
“I thought we really dialed in to some of the Triangle coverages,” Vogel said. “Obviously it’s a unique offense that will burn you in a lot of ways and make you look silly if you don’t guard it the right way. I think our guys just dialed into a lot of those coverages.”
“Just trying to make sure we didn’t give up any backdoor layups,” Hibbert added. “We went over the Triangle offense and certain keys and triggers.”
The Pacers set the tone in the first half, going into the locker room with a 54-38 lead. Indiana held the Knicks to 31.7 percent shooting from the field and owned the boards as the Pacers outrebounded New York 31-18.
The Pacers never were threatened during the second half.
“They had a lot of reasons to try and win the game and they were physical from the start,” Knicks coach Derek Fisher said. “They overmatched us and overpowered us.”
Chris Copeland had surgery on his elbow and his abdomen, Vogel said before the game. Copeland sustained the injuries in an early-morning incident when he, his girlfriend and another woman were stabbed following an argument on the street near a Manhattan nightclub that also led to the arrest of two Atlanta Hawks players, Pero Antic and Thabo Sefolosha, authorities said.
“A lot of adversity today,” Vogel said. “A lot of adversity we’ve faced all season. We’ve shown a lot of character and I’m proud of their performance today.”
Pacers: Vogel discussed Paul George’s role going forward for the rest of the season. “We’re evaluating him on a game-by-game basis,” Vogel said. “We’ll keep the same, a similar rotation, about 10-15 minutes total; five to seven minutes a half and we’ll take it from there.” George had 10 points in 15:31 of play Wednesday night.
Knicks: New York continues to struggle starting games. The team has now scored less than 17 points in the first quarter four out of the last seven games. … Carmelo Anthony sat behind the bench tonight for the first time since he underwent knee surgery.
Pacers: Indiana is at Detroit on Friday.
Knicks: New York hosts Milwaukee on Friday.
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