NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Every time Carmelo Anthony attacked the rim, a big body seemed to be waiting.
David West, Roy Hibbert and the rest of the Pacers are classic Eastern Conference bruisers, and the Knicks are countering with something closer to small ball.
“It’ll be, to me, a contrast in styles most of the series,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said.
So far, the Pacers’ way is bigger, badder and better.
Physical beat finesse Sunday, as the Pacers outmuscled the Knicks in a 102-95 victory in Game 1 of the East semifinals.
“They are a bigger team,” said Anthony. “I don’t want to panic or over-analyze the situation.”
“They outplayed and outworked us,” he added. “There is nothing else that needs to be said about that.”
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.”
“We want to play big and we’ve got the personnel to do it,” said George. “It’s playing physical, but it’s clean. We just want to make sure there’s a presence down there.”
D.J. Augustin had 16 points for the Pacers, who built a 16-point lead while 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 defense 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.”
Anthony wore a sleeve under his jersey covering a strap to keep his sore left shoulder in place. It was first hurt against the Pacers in April, then aggravated when Kevin Garnett pulled on his arm while setting a screen during the first-round series.
That may have contributed to his poor shooting, but certainly the Pacers had plenty to do with it, as did having to bang inside with the bigger West — though Anthony downplayed the toughness factor.
“The physicality of this game didn’t do nothing to me, to us,” he said.
“It’s like Coach Woodson said and I agree with him, they beat us on the glass, they beat us to the loose basketballs out there, the hustle plays, and they outworked us. I don’t think that had anything do with being more physical.”
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 offense as well. They outscored New York 59-38 across the middle two quarters and were comfortably ahead throughout the fourth.
“Just a strong defensive effort and then offensively guys played with great poise,” Vogel said. “Just a complete team effort, very proud of them.”
Hibbert scored 14 points in thoroughly outplaying counterpart Tyson Chandler, and George Hill also had 14 for the Pacers, adding seven rebounds and six assists.
Lance Stephenson added 11 points and 13 rebounds playing in his hometown.
J.R. Smith scored 17 points, but was 4 of 15. Felton had 18 and Kenyon Martin added 12 for the Knicks, who hope to have reserves Amar’e Stoudemire (right knee surgery) and Steve Novak (back spasms) back for Game 3 and certainly looked as if they could use the help.
Both teams wrapped up their first-round series Friday night, the Knicks’ victory in Game 6 in Boston giving them their first series victory in 13 years and sending them on to face a familiar postseason foe in Indiana, which ousted Atlanta.
The teams met three straight years from 1993-95, then again from 1998-00, splitting their six series, and this was the type of slugfest so many of those matchups were.
Indiana led 60-54 when Anthony committed his fourth foul and came out of the game with 7:48 remaining in the third quarter. The Pacers then outscored the Knicks 21-11 the remainder of the period, opening an 81-65 bulge on Augustin’s 3-pointer with 31.5 seconds left in the quarter.
“They did all the little things,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “We didn’t start playing until we actually got down and it was desperation and we’ve got to play like that from the start.”
Anthony came back on to start the fourth and scored the first six points to get the Knicks back within 10. He picked up a fifth on a questionable offensive foul call with 10 minutes left and appeared to wave off a substitution when Chandler checked in, though Woodson said Chandler was going in for Martin, who was the one who exited.
But there was no final flurry, and Chandler eventually fouled out with four points and three rebounds.
The Knicks closed the first quarter with a 9-0 spurt, taking a 27-22 lead after 3-pointers by Smith and Felton to end the period. But the Pacers tightened the defense in the second, holding the Knicks to two baskets in the final 5 minutes.
Indiana outscored New York 13-4 during that stretch, taking a 52-46 lead to halftime after George hit a 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left.
The Pacers, who also were the league’s best team at defending the 3-pointer, limited the Knicks to 19 attempts and actually made more (8-7). Augustin was 4 of 5 off the bench.
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