Pacers secure seventh seed, trounce Knicks 102-90
INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Pacers are looking forward to being back in the playoffs.
Paul George and George Hill each scored 19 points and the Pacers defeated the New York Knicks 102-90 on Tuesday night, clinching the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
Last season, Indiana missed the playoffs for the first time in four years, just one year removed from being the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
On Tuesday, the Pacers’ 12-point win capped a 48-hour span in which Indiana knew its postseason fate.
Indiana (44-37) clinched a playoff spot Sunday night. And with Detroit’s loss to the Heat and the Pacers’ win on Tuesday night, Indiana wrapped up the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and will face Toronto in the first round of the playoffs.
After trailing New York at the end of the first and second quarters, Indiana outscored the Knicks 26-16 in the third.
Trailing 64-62, the Pacers finished the final seven minutes of the third quarter with a 17-6 run that gave Indiana a 79-70 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
The Pacers led by as many as 14 points and never let the Knicks back in the game.
Derrick Williams scored 21 points and Jerian Grant added 18 points for the Knicks (32-50).
"They started out the game hot. We did a great job in the second half, closing out the game," George said. "We got some stops and got easy opportunities, a lot of transition plays. That’s really where the game opened up for us."
The Pacers outscored New York 46-26 in the paint. Indiana also outscored New York 18-4 on the fast break.
The Knicks also turned the ball over 16 times leading to 17 points for Indiana.
Both teams had eight offensive rebounds, but it was the Pacers that made the most of the extra effort, outscoring the Knicks 15-8 in second-chance points.
Since it was the regular-season home finale, Pacers players remained on the floor for more than 20 minutes giving away shoes and signing autographs.
"It’s the best feeling. Just putting it in perspective from last year, last year we had a different feeling on this night because we had one more game ahead of us to (try to) get in the playoffs," George said.
For the Knicks, the loss ended their season. New York finished 10-28 over the final three months of the season.
After coach Derek Fisher was fired, Kurt Rambis took over as interim coach. And despite the uncertainty regarding the Knicks’ head coaching position, Rambis is trying to maintain a positive outlook about his situation.
"Whatever is going to happen is going to happen. I want to be the coach here. But that is a decision that is out of my hands," Rambis said. "I think we can continue to get better and improve. I thanked (the players) for the season. Everybody has to improve. We have to figure out how to get better so we can get in the playoffs."
PAINT CREW: The Pacers have found the most success this season when they win the matchup on the low block. The Pacers are 22-12 when outscoring their opponent in the paint, 21-15 when scoring more second-chance points and 25-11 when outrebounding opponents. Indiana best New York in all three categories Tuesday night.
TIP-INS: Prior to Tuesday, Indiana was 0-7 when George Hill leads the team in scoring. George Hill joined Paul George, leading all scorers with 19 points in the Pacers’ 102-90 win. … The Pacers are 36-7 this season when leading after three quarters.
Indiana will end the regular season at Milwaukee on Wednesday night.