INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Pacers needed some experienced hands to get them out of a tough spot Tuesday night.
Bojan Bogdanovic started making shots. Thaddeus Young did the dirty work inside. And Darren Collison saved the game in the final minute.
Together, they helped Indiana overcome an inexplicably sluggish start and an equally confounding final seven minutes to hold off reeling New York for a 103-98 victory that kept them tied with Philadelphia for the No. 3 spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We have to play solid basketball for 48 minutes and enjoy doing it and not put so much pressure on yourself,” coach Nate McMillan said. “Just focus on what we didn’t do in our last game and try to do it better in the next one.”
Few expected the Knicks, who have the worst record in the league, to even be competitive under the circumstances.
They were, after all, on the road, facing an opponent in desperate need of a win and dealing with another spat between team owner James Dolan and former player Charles Oakley.
But on the court, New York looked focused and Indiana was lethargic early, almost as if they were looking toward the toughest stretch yet on the schedule.
It was a combination that could have proved costly without the terrific trio.
Bogdanovic led Indiana with 24 points. Young finished with 10 points, six rebounds four assists and three steals.
Collison, meanwhile, bailed them out by making a 16-footer with 24.2 seconds left to give the Pacers a 101-95 lead and again when New York nearly stole the inbound pass after Emmanuel Mudiay’s 3-pointer cut the deficit to three.
Instead, Collison retrieved the ball, drew the foul and made two free throws to seal the win and snap a two-game losing streak. Collison finished with 16 points and nine rebounds.
“We just work not to panic,” Myles Turner said. “That’s the one thing I think we have to keep reiterating as this tough stretch comes up, we can’t panic. We just have to lock in and do our best.”
Mudiay led the Knicks with 21 points and Damyean Dotson scored 18 — not quite enough to snap a losing streak that is now at seven. The Knicks also have lost six straight to Indiana.
This one might have been the most frustrating.
After New York took a 47-37 lead midway through the second quarter, Indiana charged back to make it 55-52 at halftime then opened the third quarter with three straight 3s to for a 12-point advantage.
Indiana extended the lead to 97-81 on Turner’s layup with 7:14 to go, but the Knicks only allowed two baskets the rest of the game — and still lost.
“It’s tough but we understand what got us there,” coach David Fizdale said. “Right now, it’s the turnovers that really got us. It’s been three games in a row with us up at the 20 mark.”
Knicks: Have lost four straight in Indianapolis and five consecutive road games overall. ... New York was swept 4-0 by Indiana for the first time since 2014-15. ... DeAndre Jordan had 12 points and 16 rebounds, his 12th double-double since joining the team. ... Kevin Knox had 16 points.
Pacers: Wesley Matthews scored 14 points against the team that released him following last month’s trade with Dallas. ... Turner had 15 points and nine rebounds. ... The Pacers turned the game by going 6 of 9 on 3s in the third quarter. ... Cory Joseph’s seven-game streak without a turnover ended in the first quarter. ... Domantas Sabonis had 10 points and seven rebounds in his second game back after missing the previous five with a sprained left ankle.
THE RIGHT MIX
Indiana’s biggest challenge right now is chemistry.
Injuries to Turner and Sabonis have force McMillan to mix and match lineups. And guard Tyreke Evans was out again Tuesday, this time for personal reasons. He’s previously missed games because of an upper respiratory infection and food poisoning.
“It’s a challenge but this is what we have,” McMillan said.
Knicks: Complete a three-game road trip at San Antonio on Friday.
Pacers: Welcome Paul George back to town with Oklahoma City on Thursday.