George leads Pacers past short-handed Knicks 81-76
Paul George scored seven points in a 13-0 fourth-quarter run and finished with 24, leading the Indiana Pacers past the short-handed New York Knicks 81-76 on Thursday night.
The Pacers (22-14) have won 12 of 15, including a sweep of the other two Eastern Conference division leaders - Miami and the Knicks - this week.
"Obviously they're huge. Especially, we're trying to preserve our home court. When we're home, we don't want to lose any games. Those two games are huge, but we still have to get the next one on Saturday," said Ian Mahinmi, who scored 13 points Thursday.
The Pacers have won nine straight games at home, including four games over teams with winning records.
New York (23-12) was led by J.R. Smith with 25 points on a night they clearly missed Carmelo Anthony. The NBA's second-leading scorer was suspended by the league for Monday's postgame confrontation with Boston's Kevin Garnett.
Without Anthony, the Knicks fell nine points below their previous season-low point total (85) and shot just 34.8 percent from the field.
New York rallied from a 49-38 third-quarter deficit and started the fourth with a 60-58 lead.
But George changed the game with his quick scoring flurry, which gave Indiana a 71-62 lead. Indiana never trailed again.
The Pacers held the Knicks scoreless for more than seven minutes in that stretch early in the final quarter.
"Led by Paul George who is just blossoming before our eyes with special performance after special performance after special performance. If he's not the best wing defender in the NBA, I don't know who is," said head coach Frank Vogel. "He's a blanketing defender and just had a special performance on the defensive end tonight."
"I kind of seen that they were kind of favoring to J.R. Smith to have the ball. I tried to take 'em out, not necessarily steal 'em, but just deny it or milk some clock for them, but I was able to get my hand on some of those passes and take it for some easy ones," George said.
Pacers great Reggie Miller returned to Indianapolis as part of the TNT broadcast team. He received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was shown on the Bankers Life Fieldhouse video board.
"What a great evening at the Fieldhouse, want everyone to know I FELT THE LOVE!! Thanks to everyone wearing the 31 jersey and who made signs," Miller tweeted after the game.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)