May 25, 2024

Wednesday’s NBA playoffs score, takeaways: Knicks keep dropping; Pacers can’t capitalize

The Indiana Pacers returned to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, looking to even their series with the New York Knicks after a controversial ending to Monday’s Game 1 had allowed the home team to slip away. Instead, the Pacers leave New York in a 2-0 hole after the Knicks pull away late.

Here’s what we saw in Game 2.

Knicks 130, Pacers 121

Series: Knicks lead 2-0

Game 3: 7 p.m. ET Friday in Indianapolis (ESPN)

Knicks survive without Anunoby, but losing him could hurt

The Knicks could not avoid every injury.

On the same night that Jalen Brunson suffered a foot injury, which cost him the second quarter but inspired a miraculous second half, New York lost its defensive stopper, OG Anunoby. It’s not clear when the Knicks will get him back.

Brunson hurt his foot near the end of the first quarter but strode back out onto the floor at halftime, revving for 25 points just in the second half of the win. Anunoby didn’t have the same fortune.

He exited the game in the third quarter, holding his left hamstring as he limped to the locker room. The Knicks ruled him out with “left hamstring soreness” not long later.

New York may have won without him. It clamped down the Pacers, by Indiana’s ridiculous offensive standards, in the fourth quarter. But until the injury, Anunoby was soaring to his greatest game since joining the Knicks more than four months ago: 28 points, four rebounds and three assists.

He is the backbone of the Knicks’ defense. If they have him moving forward, New York is in good shape to keep winning. If they don’t, it opens the door a little more for the Pacers. — Fred Katz

Pacers can’t capitalize on Knicks’ bad luck

The Pacers had their chances.

They almost stole Game 1 before a disastrous final minute. They had the Knicks on the ropes, and hurting, in Game 2. New York kept losing key players and the Pacers kept gaining opportunities. But they will head back to Indianapolis down 2-0 in this series after a 130-121 Game 2 loss at Madison Square Garden.

Wednesday, they just couldn’t match the Knicks’ competitiveness, their talent, their relentless drive. New York keeps losing starters — and Jalen Brunson for 15-plus minutes in the first half — and it doesn’t matter. The Pacers keep losing games in New York. Tyrese Haliburton rebounded for a big game, finding the right setting for his aggressiveness to score 31 points and dish out nine assists. T.J. McConnell was again a spark plug with 10 points and 12 assists. Obi Toppin even came off the bench to give them 20 points.

Didn’t matter.

The Knicks are the team with an Adamantium skeleton and the Pacers can’t keep them down. They’ll have to figure something out at home or this series will be over real quick. — Mike Vorkunov

(Photo: Elsa / Getty Images)