Anthony blocked in 4th as Knicks knocked out

Carmelo Anthony was nearly unstoppable for three quarters.

He faltered in the fourth, and now New York’s season is

over.

Roy Hibbert’s block of Anthony’s dunk attempt midway through the

fourth quarter spurred an 11-2 run that rallied the Indiana Pacers

to a 106-99 victory over the Knicks in Game 6 of their second-round

series, sending them into their first Eastern Conference final

since 2004.

Anthony finished with 39 points and seven rebounds. He

mercilessly attacked Indiana’s Paul George, one of the NBA’s best

perimeter defenders, scoring 15 points in the third quarter while

helping the Knicks erase a 12-point deficit.

The Knicks led 92-90 before Hibbert’s stuff.

”That block, that spearheaded that momentum run that they

made,” Anthony said.

That was the way the quarter went for the NBA’s regular-season

scoring champion. He made 2 of 7 shots in the final 12 minutes,

scored four points and committed three turnovers.

”I don’t think it was fatigue,” Anthony said. ”I don’t think

they made any adjustments. I know it was one shot, a couple shots

that I felt like the ball was almost in.”

New York native Lance Stephenson scored nine points in the run

for the Pacers, finishing with a playoff career-high 25.

With players from both teams standing on the court as the final

seconds ticked off and Pacers fans roaring in appreciation, the

sellout crowd wasted little time breaking into chants of ”Beat The

Heat!”

For Indiana, it sets up a postseason rematch with the defending

NBA champs, the team that eliminated them last May after the Pacers

had taken a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven semifinals. The Heat

wound up winning Game 4 at Indiana and followed that with two more

wins as Danny Granger struggled with a knee injury.

Indiana used the lessons from that series as motivation to

improve this season and wound up beating the Heat twice at home

before losing the third game of the season series at Miami. The

Pacers will return to South Florida for Game 1 on Wednesday

night.

With Granger missing all but five games this season because of

the lingering knee injury, the Pacers put an even greater emphasis

on playing defense and it showed.

Indiana led the league in rebounding, defensive field goal

percentage and defensive 3-point percentage while finishing second

in points allowed per game during the regular season. It was no

different in the playoffs, as the Knicks found out.

New York had another subpar shooting night Saturday, making just

40 percent of its shots, and again wound up on the wrong side of a

43-36 rebounding discrepancy. In the paint, New York was outscored

52-20, and Anthony, who finished with 39 points, scored just four

points in the final 12 minutes when he went 2 of 7 from the

field.

Iman Shumpert added 19 points, hitting five 3-pointers, and J.R.

Smith scored 15. Nobody else was in double figures.

The combination, as it had been in the previous three losses to

Indiana, produced the same frustrating result.

”They have a hell of a defense. They hold down the paint. They

do a great job, do a hell of a job of controlling the paint,

closing it down, making it tough for guys,” Anthony said. ”You’ve

got to give them guys credit, especially when they got a chance to

set. Roy Hibbert gets to sit in the paint, causes havoc.”

It’s not just that.

The biggest question coming into Saturday’s game was whether

starting point guard George Hill would play. He took part in the

team’s morning shootaround, was cleared by the team doctors and

wound up returning two days after missing Game 5 with a concussion.

His return gave the Pacers a big boost.

Hill finished with just 12 points on 2-of-10 shooting but had

five rebounds and four assists, and kept the Pacers composed enough

to commit only nine turnovers – 10 fewer than Thursday night’s loss

in New York.

The results showed up everywhere on the floor.

George had 23 points, five rebounds and four assists. David West

added 17 points, five rebounds and four assists, and Hibbert

finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, none bigger

than the stuff on Anthony that changed the game. Stephenson had 10

rebounds and three assists in his best postseason game ever.

The reason: He wanted to avoid a trip home.

”I just didn’t want to go back to New York and play Game 7,”

Stephenson said. ”Just get it done with now and I’d do whatever it

takes to do that today. It showed tonight.”

The New York native made sure of it.

After George grabbed the rebound off of Hibbert’s block,

Stephenson took a pass from West and scored on a layup to tie the

score at 92 with 4:51 left in the game. Stephenson followed that

with a steal and drove in for a layup, drawing a foul and

completing a three-point play. After grabbing another rebound and

making two more free throws, West tipped in a miss and Stephenson

closed the decisive spurt with another layup. Suddenly, the Pacers

led 101-94 with 1:53 to go.

New York never got another chance to tie the score or take the

lead again despite making a far more typical 13 of 30 from 3-point

range.

”It’s tough to go out this way,” coach Mike Woodson said. ”I

didn’t make it happen for us and that’s what’s disappointing.”

The Pacers have a far different goal now as they get ready to

face LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Miami.

”We’re not satisfied with where we’re at,” coach Frank Vogel

said. ”We feel like there’s no ceiling on this team this

year.”

Notes: New York failed to become the ninth team to rally from a

3-1 deficit. … Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter made the

short trip from the track to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where he is a

regular attendee. … Colts coach Chuck Pagano also attended the

game. … The Knicks were 18 of 18 from the free throw line.