The Knicks almost rallied for a hard-fought road win, but in the end they came up short as the Pacers ended the series with a 106-99 win in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Carmelo Anthony was brilliant for most of the game, scoring a game-high 39 points on 15-of-29 shooting, but struggled down the stretch. He went 1-of-6 in the fourth quarter for four points and had a couple of key turnovers— not to mention a momentum-swinging dunk blocked by Roy Hibbert at the rim that sent a charge throughout Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
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Total blame shouldn’t be placed at the feet of the league’s leading scorer and MVP finalist, however, because he was the Knicks’ best offensive option all night. New York got nothing from starters Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler. Felton, who struggled all series, only had two points (0-of-7 shooting) and six assists, while the 7-foot-1 Chandler mustered even less with two points, six rebounds and zero blocks. The 6-foot-7 Anthony, conversely, had seven rebounds from the forward position.
If not for the saving graces of their bench, namely J.R. Smith and Chris Copeland, the Knicks would’ve been run out of the arena. Smith didn’t shoot particularly well (4-of-15) in scoring 15 points, but he had a team-high 10 rebounds. Copeland, who critics may say head coach Mike Woodson waited far too long to insert into the regular rotation, added a solid nine points (all on 3-pointers in the pivotal third quarter) in 15 minutes.
Indiana was led by Lance Stephenson’s team-high 25 points, as every Pacers starter scored in double figures. Indiana didn’t even need a bench, as it combined for just eight points, because the starters combined for 98 points and 37 rebounds. The Knicks’ starters, conversely, combined for 68 points and 19 rebounds— certainly something that will need to be addressed in what has now turned into an earlier-than-expected summer vacation.
What we saw ...
1. Hibbert changed the complexion of this entire round with his aggressive play from the onset of this series. Hibbert was a beast on the blocks as he tallied 21 points, 12 rebounds and a game-high five blocks, as he eviscerated fellow the All-Star Chandler all series.
2. Chandler fouled out with 3:12 remaining in the game, but it was as if he was nowhere to be found anyway. Chandler, who struggled all series with Hibbert because he had at least a one-inch and 40-pound disadvantage, only gave the Knicks 37 points (6.2 per game), 36 rebounds (6.0 per game) and 10 blocks (1.7 per game) in the whole series.
3. Stephenson was the ultimate X-factor as he notched a career-high 25 points, including 16 in the first half and a handful of key buckets late to send the Knicks packing. Stephenson, a Brooklyn native, certainly didn’t want to make the trip back to New York for a Game 7, as he tortured whatever Knicks defender in his way. Stephenson also added 10 rebounds from the shooting guard position to close out what was a promising season for his hometown team.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.