Pacers open six-game homestand against short-handed Knicks

INDIANAPOLIS — The New York Knicks will be short-handed again Monday night. The question is whether the Indiana Pacers will take advantage.

New York (11-11) played without its two top scorers, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr., in a 105-100 loss to the visiting Orlando Magic on Sunday.

Porzingis was ruled out with an ankle sprain and an illness approximately an hour before the game started. Porzingis sustained the injury in the first quarter against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. Hardaway is sidelined due to a left leg injury.

Porzingis is averaging 25.8 points per game and Hardaway 17.8 points.

Porzingis and Hardaway were not traveling to Indiana, Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said after the game.

Michael Beasley, who was averaging 7.1 points, started in Porzingis’ place Sunday and scored 21 points in 28 minutes. Damyean Dotson, making his first career start, replaced Hardaway and scored just two points on 1-of-3 shooting.

Hornacek dismissed any notion that Porzingis may not be physically able to play 75-plus games a season.

“He’s still young,” Hornacek said before the Sunday game. “He is 7-foot-3 and there are going to be times he has bumps and bruises and stuff like that. It was kind of a pride thing back in the day to play all 82. They’re spreading games out, eliminating four games in five nights.”

Porzingis said he will come back when he’s 100 percent.

“It’s not a thing that I should force now and maybe backfire,” he said.

Rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina was able to return for New York on Sunday, and he scored nine points in 16 minutes. He missed the Wednesday game because of a sprained left ankle.

The Monday contest will start a six-game homestand for the Pacers (12-11), who dropped their past two games on the road to Houston and Toronto.

The Raptors beat the Pacers 120-115 Friday night.

“We just didn’t make any shots,” Pacers guard Victor Oladipo said. “They did a great job of playing on both ends, obviously. They did a great job of moving the ball, so credit them for that. It was a tough loss, we have to learn from it. We have a home stretch coming up that’s going to be huge for us, so we have to be ready to play.”

Oladipo scored a season-high 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting at Toronto.

Pacers coach Nate McMillan didn’t see much to like on either end.

“I didn’t think we played the game the right way,” McMillan said. “I thought offensively we didn’t have the ball movement. I thought we were taking some tough shots. I thought our mind was more on the offensive end before getting our shots, getting involved on the offensive end as opposed to focusing on defending, getting stops and working together.”

The Pacers lost to host New York 108-101 in the teams’ first meeting of the season on Nov. 5. Indiana was in control much of the game, leading by as many as 19 points before the Knicks rallied. Porzingis scored a career-high 40 for the Knicks, who had a 36-17 edge in the fourth quarter.

“They were the aggressors and wanted it a little bit more,” McMillan said.

After losing seven in a row to Indiana, the Knicks have won four of the past five regular-season games in the series.