May 25, 2024

Friday’s NBA playoff takeaways: Andrew Nembhard’s clutch 3 lifts Pacers past Knicks

The Indiana Pacers battled back after giving up a double-digit lead to the New York Knicks to win 111-106 after a clutch 3-pointer from Andrew Nembhard gave them breathing room late in the fourth quarter. The Pacers earned their first win of the series and avoided a daunting 3-0 hole.

Pacers 111, Knicks 106

Game 4: Sunday in Indiana

Series: New York leads 2-1

Pacers pull out an ugly win, but a win nonetheless

It was not pretty, but the Pacers are not going to care about that. It doesn’t matter that 111 is the fewest points they’ve scored in a game during this series.

Or that Tyrese Haliburton committed a late turnover. Or that they fouled Jalen Brunson in the final two minutes and sent him to the free-throw line. They won. And that is all that matters for tonight.

After two games played at an up-and-down pace that suited their regular-season style well, Indiana switched things up in Game 3 and got into a physical, ugly game with the Knicks.

Haliburton looked spectacular at various points and put up 35 points, four rebounds and seven assists, but the game was decided by a 31-foot heave by Nembhard just before the shot clock expired to give the Pacers a three-point lead with 17.8 seconds left.

It was ugly, but Indiana pulled it out to take its first game of this second-round series. — Eric Nehm, Bucks beat writer

A bruised Brunson looked unlike himself

This was not Brunson’s night. New York has to hope he looks more like himself come Game 4.

Brunson scored 26 points and dished out six assists, but it took him 26 shots to get there. The Pacers hounded him, switching up the main defender on him to Aaron Nesmith from the onset of the game. If Brunson struggles, it’s usually against length.

Nesmith provided a longer option than Nemhard and T.J. McConnell, who had taken turns on Brunson over the first two games. Nesmith got in Brunson’s face. He was physical fighting through screens. He stayed in front of the point guard the whole way.

Of course, it was easier to do so than usual Friday.

Brunson entered the game questionable with a foot injury and appeared hampered throughout the night, limping at times and not showing off his usual burst. He couldn’t quite drive by Nesmith. He had trouble punishing Indiana when it switched onto him.

The Knicks almost squeezed out a win with their best player not looking like himself and without OG Anunoby. But they need Brunson to win two more against Indiana. — Fred Katz, Knicks beat writer

Saturday’s playoff schedule:

Required reading

(Photo: Andy Lyons / Getty Images)