Pacers beat Knicks to join Heat in East finals
|Indiana Pacers guard D.J. Augustin passes the basketball to center Roy Hibbert (55) around New York Knicks center Amar'e Stoudemire (1) while Knicks guards Jason Kidd (R) and J.R. Smith (8) watch the play during the first half of their NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Indianapolis, Indiana May 18, 2013. Photo by Brent Smith, Reuters.|
The Indiana Pacers will meet the Miami Heat in the National Basketball Association Eastern Conference Finals after they closed out their semi-final series against the New York Knicks in six games with a 106-99 victory on Saturday.
The Pacers thrilled their home crowd with the win to take the seven game series 4-2 and advance to the finals for the first time in nine years to take on the NBA champion Heat side.
Lance Stephenson led the way for the Pacers with 25 points and 10 rebounds but was well backed up by fellow starters Paul George (23 points), Roy Hibbert (21 points, 12 rebounds) and David West (17 points).
The Knicks, who trailed by as many as 10 points, fought back with a big third quarter to tie things up and make a game of it.
Despite leading early in the final quarter and riding Carmelo Anthony's game high 39 points the Knicks could not find the final gear to keep the series alive.
"We knew they were going to come out and really give us their shot (in the fourth quarter)," Indiana's George said.
"We did a good job of taking that hit and really rallied back. Big credit to our guys for staying strong and staying aggressive throughout that run.
"We stuck to our defence, that's our principle. Everyone is playing for one another.
"It was a gutsy win on our behalf."
While excited with the series win George said his teammates were not done yet.
"We are still proving (ourselves to others)," he said.
"There are so many doors we need to knock down, and this was one ... but we are down for another challenge.
"It's going to take this effort times two (against Miami)."
(Reporting by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)