The New York Knicks stayed alive in the playoffs with an 85-75 home win against the Indiana Pacers, while the San Antonio Spurs reached the Western Conference finals with a series-clinching victory at Golden State.
The Knicks, who still trail three games to two in their second-round series against the Pacers, have adopted “We Believe” as their unofficial mantra as they try to become the ninth team in National Basketball Association history to rally from 3-1 down to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
New York took the first step toward that goal last night as Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,033 at Madison Square Garden. J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland each added 13 points for New York, which never trailed.
“We believe, that’s just been our No. 1 statement,” Knicks guard Raymond Felton said in a news conference. “We believe. We believe in ourselves and we believe in each other.”
There are no NBA games scheduled for tonight. Game 6 is set for tomorrow in Indianapolis, where the Pacers are 5-0 during this year’s playoffs and 4-0 against the Knicks this season. If the Knicks win that game, a series-deciding Game 7 would be May 20 in New York.
The series winner will face the defending champion Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat eliminated the Chicago Bulls in five games in the second round.
Tim Duncan, who became the seventh player in NBA history to reach the 200-game mark in the postseason, had 19 points in the 94-82 victory for the Spurs, who will play the Memphis Grizzlies for a spot in the NBA Finals. Stephen Curry had 22 points for the Warriors.
The NBA’s regular-season scoring champion, Anthony has scored at least 20 points in 26 consecutive games. He has led the Knicks in scoring in all 11 games this postseason.
“Any time you have a scorer like Carmelo, it frees up a lot of things for the other guys,” Pacers forward Paul George, who has guarded Anthony for much of the series, told reporters. “They just made big plays. They were looking to be aggressive and looking to attack, but again, it’s because of how well Carmelo can score the ball.”
George had 23 points to lead the Pacers, while David West added 17 points and 10 rebounds. Center Roy Hibbert picked up his fourth foul with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter and did not play for much of the second half.
The Pacers were missing point guard George Hill, who is day-to-day after suffering a concussion in the first half of Game 4, when he scored 26 points. Indiana committed 19 turnovers and was 19-for-33 from the free throw line.
“We’re just out of sync offensively,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said in a news conference. “We have plenty to beat the Knicks with or without George Hill, and the guys in uniform have to play better.”
Knicks coach Mike Woodson returned to the team’s normal starting cast last night, with point guards Felton and Pablo Prigioni on the court, after experimenting with a larger lineup to open the team’s 93-82 loss in Game 4.
The Knicks held a 40-34 lead at halftime, their largest first-half point total in three games, and opened a double-digit lead midway through the third quarter.
“I honestly thought we should have been up 15 or 20, the way we were playing,” Woodson said of the second half. “But they’re a team that’s not quitting, and that’s why we’re sitting here down a game.”
Knicks guard Jason Kidd continued his postseason woes, playing less than six minutes, his fewest in a game these playoffs. A 10-time All-Star, he is scoreless in his last nine games, going 0-17 from the floor and 0-10 from 3-point range in 182 minutes.
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