|New York vs Indiana|
|100 - 103|
Suddenly, they realized there was only way out of it.
Kareem Rush scored 24 points, and the Pacers limited the New York Knicks to three field goals in the final 8 1/2 minutes of a 103-100 victory Wednesday night.
"I thought our defense for the first three quarters was on the other side of miserable, but we stepped up and really started being more aggressive around the paint, slapping the basketball out of people's hands," Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. "And you have to defend down the stretch if you're going to win."
Mike Dunleavy added 17 points and Danny Granger had 16 for the Pacers in an impressive turnaround after they surrendered 116 points against San Antonio on Tuesday in their most lopsided loss of the season.
Marquis Daniels had a strong final quarter and finished with 13 points in Indiana's franchise-best third straight victory in New York. Rush and Daniels combined for seven field goals - one more than the Knicks - and 20 points in the final period, leading Indiana's 43-19 advantage in bench points.
The Pacers had allowed 100 or more points in 14 of their previous 15 games. The Knicks eventually got there, but it didn't matter after Indiana held them without a field goal for about 5 1/2 minutes earlier in the fourth quarter.
"Down the stretch, we went out and got some stops and that's been our biggest problem the last couple of games," Rush said.
Zach Randolph scored 26 points for the Knicks, who dropped their seventh straight. Jamal Crawford had 21, but wasn't close on a contested 3-point try before the buzzer, and Eddy Curry scored 20.
New York had a 49-34 rebounding advantage against an Indiana team that's still playing without star forward Jermaine O'Neal, but wasted that by committing 18 turnovers that led to 35 points.
"Right now, our turnovers are killing us and we can't ... we have to do a better job with our guards in terms of getting in the flow and organized," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said during his brief postgame remarks. "We have to keep working at it."
The Knicks led 86-79 after Renaldo Balkman 's follow shot with 8:22 remaining. Daniels hit a pair of 3-pointers, and Rush had a 3 and another jumper during a 15-6 stretch, with Daniels' two free throws giving Indiana a 94-92 lead with 3 1/2 minutes to play.
Randolph's three-point play with 2:45 left ended the drought and put New York back ahead, but Jeff Foster was given an open lane for a dunk, then Rush had two more buckets to make it 100-95 with 1:26 to go. Randolph made a 3 and Balkman blocked a shot in the final seconds, giving the Knicks a final chance.
It was yet another blown fourth-quarter lead for the Knicks, who couldn't capitalize on a number of chances to win during their recent 0-5 road trip.
"Getting very old," Crawford said. "It's frustrating. I think we've had leads in five of the seven games ... and find ways to lose."
Still, expectations are so low these days that they don't even need to win to feel like they're making progress.
"You can say we're not getting better because we haven't won games, but I think over the last couple of weeks we have gotten better as a basketball team," Thomas said before the game. "However we haven't completed it with a win. Hopefully we'll get one tonight."
Nate Robinson was back for the Knicks after missing a game with a bruised left quadriceps, but played only 9 minutes. Starting forward Quentin Richardson was out with a sprained right ankle during Monday's loss to the Clippers.
Granger hit all four shots in the first quarter, helping the Pacers take a 29-26 lead. The game was tied at 55 at halftime, with Randolph scoring 15 points and Curry going 6-for-6 and adding 14. The Knicks shot 54 percent but their nine turnovers led to 19 points.
Randolph's 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Knicks a 77-75 lead entering the final period.
Notes: Plaxico Burress, who caught the go-ahead touchdown pass in the final minute of the Super Bowl, and a number of other Giants players came onto the court after the third quarter and received a long standing ovation. ... Patrick Ewing , the Knicks' career scoring leader, is among the first-time players eligible to be selected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Miami coach Pat Riley, who led Ewing and the Knicks to the NBA finals in 1994, is another candidate. The finalists will be chosen Feb. 15 in New Orleans and the Hall's class of 2008 will be announced April 7.