ADRY TORRES, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Jeff Hornacek basically conceded his team’s chances of making the postseason Tuesday, and with the New York Knicks six games back of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot, All-Star Carmelo Anthony understands his coach’s stance.
“It’s rough. I think you already know how rough that is for me,” Anthony said. “But we got to play it out.”
So that’s what they did Tuesday night. Anthony scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, Derrick Rose added 16 points and the Knicks overcame a 13-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Indiana Pacers 87-81.
New York is trying to chase down Milwaukee for the eighth spot in the East but is also just a loss away from clinching its fourth straight losing season. The Knicks haven’t made the playoffs since the 2012-13 season, when they lost in the conference semifinal.
Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis exited in the third quarter with a left thigh contusion after colliding with Indiana’s Monta Ellis while trying to catch a lob pass for a dunk. Rookie Willie Hernangomez entered in his place and had 13 points and 16 rebounds.
Paul George scored 22 points for the Pacers, who failed to build on their sixth-place lead in the East. Myles Turner had 17 points and 12 rebounds.
New York had lost its last three games. Anthony also had 13 rebounds in what was perhaps the Knicks’ best defensive showing of the season.
“Until you’re mathematically done, you’re always going for it. But sometimes it’s realistic, are you going to be able to make up seven games in 14?” Hornacek said before the game. “Many, many things will have to happen for that to happen.”
The Knicks trailed 59-46 with 9:07 left in the third after Turner’s basket but closed out the quarter on an 18-3 run, capped by Anthony’s 3-pointer that gave New York a 64-62 lead with 52 seconds left.
Anthony, who shot 1 for 7 in the first half, made a nifty play on George’s failed drive and hit a 3-point shot on the other end, increasing the lead to 77-70 with 4:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“I thought his tandem with Derrick obviously created space which gave him rhythm, and I thought guys off the dribble were able to penetrate and create, which made the game easy for Melo,” George said. “That’s Melo. Melo gets hot any point in the game. Unfortunately, tonight he got hot late.”
The Pacers closed within 84-79 on a jumper by Jeff Teague, but Anthony made three free throws after being fouled by George to increase the lead to 87-79 with 18 seconds left.
Indiana led 52-42 at halftime and made 20 of 41 from the field but was limited to 12 of 46 from the floor over the last two quarters.
Pacers: Teague had nine points, eight rebounds and six assists.
Knicks: The 29 points New York gave up in the second half were a season-low for any opponent this year. . New York is 3-0 when holding the opposing team to under 90 points.
A moment of silence was held for former Knicks broadcaster John Andariese prior to tip-off. Andariese, who passed away Monday night at the age of 78, was also honored with a video tribute in the first quarter. The New York native, nicknamed “Johnny Hoops,” starred at Fordham on the hardwood and spent over 40 years calling games for the Knicks on television and radio. In 2014, he received the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Pacers: Return home Wednesday night to host Charlotte.
Knicks: Host cross-town rivals Brooklyn on Thursday night. New York leads the season series 2-1 but lost at Barclays Center on Sunday night, 120-112.
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