The matchup was reminiscent of the classic Pacers-Knicks games from the 1990s. The crowd was electric, the action was chippy, Reggie Miller jerseys were plentiful, and Indiana rallied from a seemingly hopeless deficit to win.
Danny Granger played the role of Miller, scoring 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers rallied from 17 points down late in the third quarter to take a 112-104 victory on Tuesday night.
Granger made all three of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, a fitting performance one day after Miller was announced as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2012 class.
Miller, one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in NBA history, was known for clutch shooting and leading comebacks. He saved his most spectacular performances for the Knicks.
”I guess it was from one shooter to another, my tribute to Reggie Miller,” Granger said.
Area 55, designated for Roy Hibbert fans, was filled with more No. 31 Reggie Miller jerseys than the usual No. 55 Hibbert jerseys.
Fans in that section at one point unveiled a banner resembling the one that hangs in the rafters honoring Miller. Chants of ”Reg-gie” rang out from that section before the game, but in the fourth quarter, those chants became ”Dan-ny.”
Granger has scored plenty of points in his career, he wants the reputation Miller has: that of a winner.
”It’s playoff time,” Granger said. ”We need momentum going into these playoffs. For the first time in a lot of years, we have a really good team and can make a lot of noise.”
Paul George scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and reserves Leandro Barbosa and Dahntay Jones added 12 points each for the Pacers.
Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 39 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Knicks. Landry Fields scored 15 points and Tyson Chandler added 12 points and 14 rebounds for New York, which fell to 9-3 under interim coach Mike Woodson.
Anthony said the loss was inexcusable.
”We got a little bit complacent being up 17,” he said. ”They stuck with it, they played harder coming into that fourth quarter. They played harder.”
New York is battling for a playoff spot without two of its best players. Forward Amare Stoudemire (back) missed a fifth straight game, and point guard Jeremy Lin is out for the regular season after having surgery on his left knee. The loss stung considering the fourth-quarter collapse and the fact that the Knicks nearly stole one on the road short-handed.
”It was just unfortunate,” Anthony said. ”We can’t have that.”
Indiana led 101-93 in the fourth quarter before New York rallied. A three-point play, then a 3-pointer by Anthony cut Indiana’s lead to 101-99.
The Pacers led 106-102 and New York had another chance to get close. Anthony’s 3-pointer from the left wing was off and Paul George rebounded. George was fouled and made two free throws.
George then stole J.R. Smith’s inbounds pass and dunked. On New York’s next offensive possession, Smith threw Barbosa to the ground, was called for a flagrant 2 and ejected.
New York finished the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 59-51 lead into the break, and the Knicks quickly pushed the lead to double figures at the start of the third quarter. A three-point play by Baron Davis bumped New York’s lead to 13 before Indiana rallied.
Indiana’s David West got loose on a fast break, and made a basket as he was undercut by New York’s Iman Shumpert. West converted the free throw to cut New York’s lead to eight points, and a jumper by George Hill drew Indiana within six.
New York rallied, and a 3-pointer by Steve Novak pushed New York’s lead to 87-70 in the final minute of the third quarter.
Indiana opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run. A layup by Granger cut New York’s lead to 89-80, got the crowd back into the game and forced New York to call timeout.
Indiana continued its run after the timeout. A free throw by George cut New York’s lead to one point, and Granger’s 3-pointer with 6:35 to go tied the game at 91.
”They made a huge run on their home court,” Anthony said. ”They tried to make one last push, which they did. Even though we were up, it seemed like we were battling uphill the whole time.”
A lineup switch in the second half keyed Indiana’s comeback. The Pacers moved George from shooting guard to small forward and Granger from small forward to power forward to give Anthony a tougher matchup.
Anthony was playing power forward because Stoudemire was out, and Indiana’s usual power forwards, West and Tyler Hansbrough, couldn’t keep up. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Granger accepted the challenge.
”He was dominant on both ends,” Vogel said. ”He really manned up and guarded Carmelo at a very high level.”
Granger wasn’t too upset with Anthony’s point total.
”Carmelo, it’s hard to stop him completely,” Granger said. ”I just wanted to make his shots difficult for him. Even the shots he made, just make them tough shots. He got 39 points, but we got the win.”
Notes: The Pacers wore their alternate gold uniforms. … Indiana matched its win total of 32 from 2009-10, Jim O’Brien’s last full season as coach. … Novak’s 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter tied the game at 31. … Indiana University coach Tom Crean attended the game.