By Brian Mahoney
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) Tyler Hansbrough scored a career-high 29 points, Dahntay Jones added 18 in place of leading scorer Danny Granger, and the Indiana Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak with a 106-93 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday night.
Darren Collison added 16 points for the Pacers in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Indiana was in control all night and moved back into a tie with Charlotte for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Roy Hibbert had 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
Hansbrough scored 20 for the fourth straight game, while Hibbert bottled up Amar’e Stoudemire a number of times on drives to the basket and Jones did solid job defending and frustrating Carmelo Anthony.
Stoudemire scored 28 points for the Knicks, who lost their second straight. Anthony added 25 but shot just 9 for 22.
New York had Chauncey Billups back in the lineup after he missed six games with a bruised left thigh, but both he and the Knicks’ offense were a step slow. He had nine points and shot 4 of 14, while reserve Toney Douglas, who played well starting in Billips’ place, missed his first nine shots and finished with three points on 1-of-12 shooting.
Despite the Pacers’ skid, interim coach Frank Vogel said before the game he was “encouraged” by how hard his players had been working, saying he believed the worst was behind them. The Pacers rewarded his confidence, dominating the game on both ends despite missing the 20.6 points per game from Granger, who had the flu. Indiana shot 57 percent from the floor and held New York to 37 percent.
The Pacers will go for the home-and-home sweep Tuesday against the Knicks, who have started to believe they can finish fifth in the East. But the way they performed Sunday, they should be more concerned with holding off Philadelphia to avoid falling into seventh.
Madison Square Garden was at its energetic best while the Knicks were out of town this week during Connecticut’s historic run through the Big East tournament. The Knicks sleep-walked through their return home, taking the buzz right out of the building and even hearing boos during a lopsided third quarter and again at the end.
Indiana led by eight at halftime, then got 13 points in the third from Hansbrough while extending the lead to 20. The Pacers were 9 of 14 in the period – Hansbrough made 5 of 6 – and held the Knicks to 30 percent shooting. Making matters worse for New York, Anthony and Stoudemire both had to go to the bench with their fourth fouls during the period.
There was no run in the fourth with the Knicks never getting the lead into single digits.
Indiana raced to an early eight-point lead before New York answered with a flurry, taking its first lead when Billups grabbed a rebound, flung a long outlet pass with his left hand to Anthony, who made the basket and was fouled. His free throw made it 17-16, but Indiana quickly recovered and led 29-21 after one, shooting 59 percent.
The Pacers led by as much as 13 in the half, outshooting the Knicks 60.5 percent to 39.5 percent and taking a 54-46 advantage to the locker room.
Notes: Pacers G A.J. Price, who played at UConn, was at MSG on Saturday to watch former teammate Kemba Walker lead the Huskies to the Big East tournament championship. … It was the Knicks’ first home game since announcing that season ticket prices would increase an average of 49 percent next season. … James Posey was sitting in Granger’s locker before the game when a reporter incorrectly called him “Danny.” After Posey said he wasn’t Danny, Hibbert reminded the reporter of Posey’s NBA resume, saying he has “won two chips.”