Indiana Pacers fall apart in second half again and drop Game 2 to New York Knicks, trail 0-2 in series

The Pacers and Knicks were at it again on Wednesday
May 8, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) looks to drive past Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nemmbhard (2).
May 8, 2024; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) looks to drive past Indiana Pacers guard Andrew Nemmbhard (2). / Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — The Indiana Pacers were in New York to take on the Knicks for Game 2 of their 2024 Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Wednesday. The Knicks took game one — they were slightly better at the little things and pushed through an odd ending.

New York lost Mitchell Robison between the first and second game, and their thin depth was already a story entering the series. But the Pacers have struggled against the Knicks starting lineup, which made depth less important. Indiana needed its opening five to be better in Game 2.

They started off the game up 4-3 thanks to two baskets at the rim, but it was a back-and-forth affair early. Neither team was stringing together stops or baskets, so the score remained close for the first few minutes.

Indiana mixed up their matchups. Andrew Nembhard started the game guarding Knicks star Jalen Brunson, but after a few minutes, Aaron Nesmith took the assignment. Brunson had just two of New York's first 13 points — it was a much slower start for him than he had in Game 1. But it was still 13-10 Knicks at the time.

OG Anunoby was shining for the hosts early. He was driving to the rim with ease and hitting outside shots — and he had 10 of New York's first 18 points. That helped the Knicks race ahead and end the trading baskets stage of the game — they took a 24-13 lead with 4:01 to go in the first quarter, and the Pacers took a timeout.

That stoppage did wonders for the blue and gold. They went on an 11-0 run that spanned a 49 second period, and they tied the game up at 24. That stretch was needed after a dismal start, but the Pacers were back in the game.

They were able to take the lead again, but the Knicks grabbed it right back. After one quarter, the score was tied at 36. Tyrese Haliburton led the Pacers with 13 points while Anunoby's 12 points paced the Knicks.

To get the second quarter going, the two teams were trading buckets once again. New York held the lead after some free throws, then Indiana took it back thanks to a three-point play from Isaiah Jackson. It was a high-speed, intense battle through 15 minutes.

A larger Indiana unit with all of Pascal Siakam, Obi Toppin, and Isaiah Jackson helped the Pacers push ahead and grab a six-point lead, though they were playing against a Knicks group that had Brunson on the bench. The star guard sat for a few minutes to start the second period.

The Knicks announced soon after that Brunson had a sore right foot and was questionable to return. His absence was massive for Indiana, and the Pacers needed to take advantage.

With the star guard out, the visitors kept pushing ahead. Their passing was sublime thanks to T.J. McConnell and Haliburton, and three-point shots were falling at a high rate. Haliburton dropped in an outside shot with 3:03 to go until halftime and it put the Pacers up by 10. That led to a New York timeout.

Indiana's offense never cooled off as they continued to attack the rim and generate good shots down the stretch of the first half. Their lead stayed close to 10 for most of that period, and they never let up from their style.

They carried that edge into halftime. At the break, it was 73-63 in favor of the Pacers. Haliburton's 22 points and five assists led the team. Their outside shooting was vital in the first half — the Knicks shot over 58% from the field through two periods, but the Pacers were still up double figures.

To kick off the second half, both teams were rolling on offense. Donte DiVincenzo was knocking down shots left and right for the Knicks, but Nembhard had answers. On the whole, DiVincenzo was the superior talent in those moments, and the Knicks cut the lead down to five quickly.

Brunson returned to the game to start the second half, and he quickly found a role in the game on both ends. He scored a few times early in the third quarter, and New York tied the game at 79 not long after. The Pacers first half advantage was gone.

In total, the Knicks scored on nine out of 10 possessions, and they claimed an 84-79 edge. It was a brutal run for Indiana, who lost all the momentum they acquired before halftime. They took a timeout when their deficit reached five.

New York's relentless style continued. They kept pushing and expanded their lead to seven just a few moments later, and then up to nine. Their defensive pressure was leading to errors, and their offense was playing nearly perfect. The Pacers couldn't keep up.

Late in the period, Indiana cut the lead down to three. But the Knicks responded with a quick five points from Brunson to expand the lead to eight, and they led 99-91 entering the final period. Brunson was up to 15 points while Anunoby had 28, but Anunoby left the game in the third quarter with an injury. The third quarter was 36-18 in favor of New York.

The fourth quarter started with six-straight points from the Pacers, a run that they badly needed. Brunson answered with a three-point play, but Indiana had a rhythm, and they needed to hold it. Their big bench group was playing well.

A few minutes later, they cut the Knicks advantage to one at 102-101. McConnell was playing well for the Pacers, who were on a 10-3 run. With Anunoby out, their bigger lineup was having success, but they still had work to do. There was a timeout with 8:02 to go.

New York did well, largely thanks to timely shots from Brunson and Josh Hart, to cling to their lead. It was 110-108 with 5:30 to go, and even the Knicks' broken possessions were ending with decent shots. Indiana was going to need to find another level in the final minutes.

Every time the Pacers would score and cut the Knicks edge to one possession, the hosts would answer with a huge shot that got the crowd involved in the action. It happened again with about four minutes to go as DiVincenzo hit a three to expand New York's lead to five.

Their advantage reached seven with about 3.5 minutes to go. The Pacers were running out of time to make a run, and they were struggling to get enough stops to make a comeback. Their defense wasn't good enough in the fourth quarter of Game 1, and it looked the same in the second half of Game 2.

New York's lead reached nine in the final 90 seconds of play, which put Indiana's chances on life support. They needed to be perfect the rest of the way to make a comeback. Nesmith hit a three to cut the lead to six, but the Pacers needed some stops.

They forced two missed shots, but the Knicks tracked down two offensive rebounds. The hosts held the ball with 53 seconds left and the advantage. They scored on the possession to take an eight-point lead and all but bury the Pacers.

A few moments later, Carlisle was irate at the officials. He was unhappy with an inadvertent whistle call, and he never let up. He was ejected with 33.9 seconds to go, but the Knicks were up 10 at the time.

New York held on to win 130-121. They took a 2-0 series lead, with the next two games coming in Indianapolis on Friday and Sunday.

Brunson finished with 29 points. Haliburton had 34 points and nine assists. Toppin added 20 for Indiana.

Game 3 is in two days.

  • Myles Turner finally reached the conference semifinals after a winding career with the Indiana Pacers. CLICK HERE.
  • The little things and the biggest thing will define Game 2 for the Indiana Pacers against the New York Knicks. CLICK HERE.
  • Indiana Pacers discuss the officiating from the end of Game 1 loss to New York Knicks. CLICK HERE.
  • Indiana Pacers drop Game 1 late vs New York Knicks and fall behind in series. CLICK HERE.
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Tony East


Tony East is the Publisher of AllPacers. He has previously written for Forbes Sports, the West Indianapolis Community News, WTHR, and more while hosting the Locked On Pacers podcast.