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Pacers protect home court, beat Knicks 82-71

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MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer 

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Roy Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Paul George had 14 points, eight rebounds and eight assist to lead the Pacers past New York 82-71 Saturday night in Game of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Pacers are up 2-1, with Game 4 of the best-of-seven series Tuesday in Indy.

Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points to lead the Knicks, who led only once in the game for a total of 76 seconds. New York spent the final 45 minutes trying to play catch-up but never did.

Amare Stoudemire looked rusty after returning from a two-month absence, going 3 of 8 from the field and finishing with seven points. J.R. Smith scored nine points after missing the morning shootaround because of a 102-degree fever.

Indiana took control with a 14-3 run that gave it a 58-44 third-quarter lead, and the Knicks never got closer than eight

The big questions heading into the game were whether Smith would play, whether Stoudemire would be effective and whether Indiana could get back to its brand of basketball.

Smith gave it a go, but his shooting problems continued as he went 4 of 12 from the field and walked straight to the locker room when he was replaced with 7:45 left in the game. He returned to the game a few minutes later.

Stoudemire, meanwhile, hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in eight minutes and grabbed two rebounds.

The biggest difference between Games 2 and 3 was how the Pacers played.

Four days after being embarrassed in a 26-point loss at New York, the Pacers got tough. New York shot just 35.2 percent from the field and made only three 3s, Anthony got into foul trouble by picking up three in a 2:18 span during the third quarter and, of course, Indiana finished with a 53-40 rebounding advantage.

The result: Instead of struggling over the final 18 minutes, the Pacers thrived.

New York closed the deficit to 44-41 midway through the third quarter. That's when things fell apart.

After Tyson Chandler was called for his third foul, he picked up a technical that allowed the Pacers to score three points on the possession. West followed that with a 19-foot jumper and after Chandler went 1-of-2 from the free throw line, Indiana seized control by going on a 9-0 run that made it 58-44.

Stoudemire's buzzer-beater to end the quarter got the Knicks within 62-51 and New York eventually got as close as 65-57 with 9:10 left. But Indiana answered with seven straight points and never let the Knicks challenge seriously again.

Notes: The Pacers are 4-0 at home with an average victory margin of 16.5 points. ... New York is now 0-3 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season. ... Saturday's loss marked the first time New York lost in this year's playoffs while holding a team to fewer than 90 points. The Knicks are now 5-1. ... Movie director Spike Lee showed up inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Game 3 in a Knicks jersey and orange hat

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