NEW YORK — Bigger, badder, and so far better.
Physical beat finesse Sunday, as the Indiana Pacers outworked and outmuscled the New York Knicks in a 102-95 victory in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
David West scored 20 points and Paul George added 19 for the Pacers, who outrebounded the Knicks 44-30, showing the smaller team that in the rugged East, size does matter.
“I thought guys did a good job just putting them on their heels,” West said. “We were attacking, we were aggressive.”
D.J. Augustin had 16 points for the Pacers, who built a 16-point lead while Carmelo Anthony was on the bench in foul trouble in the third quarter, and easily held on to spoil the Knicks’ first second-round game since 2000.
Anthony finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, but was frustrated by the Pacers’ tough defence and by the referees.
He shot 10 of 28 from the field and was perhaps thrown out of sync having to defend West, a natural power forward, inside.
“Right now they’re just being really physical with him, they’re trying to bang him, they’re trying to frustrate him,” Knicks point guard Raymond Felton said. “But we’re going to be fine, he’s going to be fine.”
Game 2 is here Tuesday night, and then the series takes a lengthy break before Game 3 on Saturday in Indiana.
The Pacers, who allowed the second-fewest points per game and the lowest field goal percentage in the league during the regular season, mixed in solid offence as well.
They outscored New York 59-38 across the middle two quarters and were comfortably ahead throughout the fourth.