NEW YORK — The New York Knicks ran their winning streak to seven games, knocking off the Indiana Pacers 92-86 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
It was the Knicks’ first game with Phil Jackson as team president. Jackson, who was named to the position Tuesday, received a standing ovation from the Garden crowd when he was introduced in the first quarter.
New York trails the idle Atlanta Hawks by three games for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Forward Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks (28-40) with 34 points and forward Amar’e Stoudemire added 21.
Anthony is averaging 28.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists during the streak. He is one of five players to average double figures during this revival, joining Stoudemire (17.3), guard J.R. Smith (15.0), guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (13.3) and center Tyson Chandler (11.0).
Shooting guard Lance Stephenson led the Pacers (50-18) with 21 points and center Roy Hibbert scored 20 points. Forward Paul George, the Pacers’ top scorer this season, scored 17 points.
New York seemed to feed of the excitement generated by having Jackson, a member of the Knicks last championship team in 1973, in the house.
“There is energy in the city,” said Knicks coach Mike Woodson. “Bringing Phil back is huge for this franchise.”
Jackson’s presence a few rows up was not lost on the Knicks.
“It was awesome and well-deserved,” said Stoudemire of the ovation Jackson received.
A dunk from Anthony with 3:23 to go put the Knicks ahead 84-77 and a jumper from guard Raymond Felton iced it at 88-80 with 1:01 left in the game.
With the Pacers on the Knicks heels, trailing 67-66 early in the fourth quarter, New York got some space, outscoring the visitors 11-5 to move ahead 78-71 with 5:35 to play.
“We didn’t make enough plays down the stretch and Carmelo (Anthony) was sensational,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel. “We had a poor shooting night and a poor offensive execution night.
Indiana’s vaunted defense came around in the third quarter. New York went 6:50 without a field goal and saw its lead dwindle down from 16 points, 51-35, to four points at 60-56 with 2:33 left in the quarter. Indiana used a 19-7 blitz to get back into the game after trailing for most of the first half. Hibbert scored eight in the Pacers run, but New York was still able to maintain a 67-62 lead after three.
The Knicks played one of their more aggressive half’s of the season, nailing 12 of 14 shots from the line en route to a 47-35 advantage. George suffered through a difficult first half, scoring only three points on 1-for-8 shooting with three turnovers.
The Pacers got to within two points at 23-21 with 9:57 left in the second quarter before the Knicks went on an impressive 16-2 run that opened their lead to 39-23 with 6:08 left. Stoudemire dominated in the burst with eight points.
Anthony contributed eight points to help the Knicks to a 21-14 first-quarter lead. New York took advantage of seven Indiana fouls in the quarter, converting nine of its 10 free throws.
The Pacers defeated the Knicks in their two previous games by a combined 28 points and eliminated them in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last year.
“They (Knicks) are playing a lot more confident,” said Vogel. “Amar’e and J.R. (Smith) are playing great. Tyson (Chandler) was out with injuries earlier in the year and when he came back he didn’t seem like he had his timing right away, but it’s coming back.
“They’re getting healthy, they have a great coach and they’re turning it around. Give them credit.”
NOTES: After Wednesday, the Knicks play six of their next seven games on the road. … Indiana has recorded 17 come-from-behind wins after trailing at the half this season. … The Pacers rank first in the NBA in points allowed in the paint, allowing an average of 35.5 points per game. … Going into Wednesday, Pacers C Roy Hibbert blocked at least one shot in 13 straight games. … Pacers backup C Andrew Bynum missed his second straight game with a sore right knee. … F Carmelo Anthony has led the Knicks in scoring in 60 of their 68 games.
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