The Indiana Pacers became the first visiting team to win the opening game in 10 playoff series this National Basketball Association postseason with a 102-95 victory at the New York Knicks.
The Pacers’ win yesterday came after the Oklahoma City Thunder overcame a 10-point deficit during the fourth quarter to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-91 in Game 1 of their second-round series in Oklahoma City. Home teams had won the opening game in all eight first-round series.
“They played harder than our team, that’s the difference,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said after his team was outrebounded 44-30 and allowed more than 100 points for the first time this postseason. “We gotta play harder across the board for us to get out of this series.”
The Pacers trailed 27-22 at New York’s Madison Square Garden before outscoring the Knicks 59-38 over the second and third quarters to take the lead for good.
David West scored 20 points and Paul George had 19 for the third-seeded Pacers, while D.J. Augustin added 16 points in 13 minutes off the bench, hitting 5-of-6 shot attempts.
“We just did a great job of taking advantage or our size, getting some second shots,” West said.
The Knicks’ top two scorers on the season, Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, combined to miss 29 of 43 shots in the team’s first appearance in the conference semifinals in 13 years. Anthony finished with 27 points to lead the Knicks, while Raymond Felton scored 18. The teams had split their four regular-season meetings, with the Pacers and Knicks each winning twice at home.
With the postseason’s first Game 1 road win, the Pacers grabbed home-court advantage as they could host three of the next six games. Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is scheduled tomorrow in New York before the next two games in Indianapolis.
The NBA’s other two second-round series begin tonight, with the defending-champion Miami Heat hosting the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference and the Golden State Warriors visiting the San Antonio Spurs in the West.
The Thunder, the top seed in the Western Conference, outscored Memphis 29-18 during the fourth quarter in their series opener yesterday. Kevin Durant, who led Oklahoma City with 35 points and 15 rebounds, put his team ahead for good by hitting a jump shot with 11.1 seconds remaining.
Durant’s go-ahead basket came off a pass from Derek Fisher, who had stolen the ball from Memphis’s Mike Conley with the Thunder trailing by one point in the final minute.
“We did a good job of being resilient,” Durant said. “We knew what we had to do and we came out and did it.”
Game 2 in the conference semifinal series is scheduled for Oklahoma City’s Chesapeake Energy Arena tomorrow.
Kevin Martin added 25 points for the Thunder, who were eliminated in seven games at the same stage two years ago by the Grizzlies. Marc Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead Memphis, which won two of three prior games against the Thunder this season, while Zach Randolph had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“They earned it,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “We had some opportunities we just didn’t execute and Durant made some big plays. We just weren’t able to sustain in the fourth quarter.”
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