INDIANAPOLIS — Roy Hibbert and the Indiana Pacers rediscovered their winning formula.
Hibbert scored eight of his 18 points during a game-changing run at the start of the second half, and Indiana's struggling offense got back in sync with a 103-82 rout over the New York Knicks on Thursday night.
"I was just trying to execute and just play with a lot of energy," Hibbert said.
After losing eight of their previous nine, a stretch in which the Pacers (17-31) lacked offensive rhythm, they methodically fought back from an early double-digit deficit. And thanks largely to Hibbert, poured it on in the second half for their most lopsided home win of the season.
Hibbert finished 9 of 11 from the field with 10 rebounds. Rodney Stuckey led Indiana with 22 points, and David West had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. The Pacers also had a 50-26 scoring edge in the paint — numbers that resembled the ones they posted during two consecutive postseason runs to the Eastern Conference finals.
But, of course, the dreadful Knicks (9-38) helped them out.
Carmelo Anthony finished with 18 points after scoring 12 in the first nine minutes. Only two of his teammates reached double figures: Lou Amundson with 17 and Tim Hardaway Jr. with 11.
On paper, it was an even uglier. New York made just 14 of 42 shots in the second half, was outscored 35-12 in the decisive third quarter, finished with 33 second-half points and fell behind Philadelphia for the worst record in the East.
"Indiana, as the game went on, they started to play better and do the things that they do well," coach Derek Fisher said. "We didn't have enough to keep up with that."
It sure didn't look like it would go this way when Anthony's early scoring flurry gave the Knicks a 27-16 lead.
But the Pacers rallied with Anthony went on the bench. They turned the game with a 10-2 run midway through the second quarter, capping it with Hibbert's 10-foot hook shot for a 44-39 lead.
Hibbert then opened the second half propelling the Pacers to a 10-2 spurt, giving the Pacers a 64-51 lead with 9:35 left. New York never recovered, and the Pacers never backed off, pushing the lead to as much as 34 before coasting at the end.
"We wanted to establish David and Roy inside and those guys were able to get going," coach Frank Vogel said. "We knocked down some 3-point shots, particularly in that third quarter, but a lot of them were set up from Roy and David getting going inside"
Knicks: New York's third-quarter collapse was another bleak chapter in the Knicks' season-long odyssey. The Knicks were 4 of 19 from the field during a 12-minute stretch in which no player made more than one basket. The loss also prevented New York from posting back-to-back wins for the third time this season.
Pacers: Indiana's injury woes are still mounting. As Paul George continues his recovery from a broken right leg, Vogel said Thursday that point guard C.J. Watson will probably spend the rest of the season playing through soreness in his feet. Swingman C.J. Miles was limited to just 13 minutes because of a strained left groin, and backup center Lavoy Allen limped to the locker room late in the first half with a sore right knee. Allen did not return. Vogel said Allen will be re-evaluated Friday.
ON THE REBOUND.
The Pacers didn't just win the scoring battle inside, they also outrebounded the Knicks 49-33. And after starting 7 of 17 from the field, Indiana finished the game by going 35 of 62 (56.5 percent) over the final three quarters.
Though the Knicks got knocked down late in the second quarter and knocked out late in the third, Fisher insisted his team played hard to the end. Hardaway was even more emphatic. "No, the team didn't quit," Hardaway said. "I don't know why you would say that. We didn't quit at all. They were just making shots and we weren't."
Knicks: Hosts Lakers on Sunday.
Pacers: Host Kings on Saturday.
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