THE INDIANA PACERS finally figured it out.
When given the chance to take command of a playoff series, they can't give it back. Last night, they didn't.
George Hill scored 26 points and Paul George had 18 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, leading the Pacers past the visiting New York Knicks, 93-82, and to within one win of their first conference finals appearance since 2004.
"We wanted it," George said. "For us to come out with that edge, still, after being up 2-1 and being on our floor for Game 4, for us to be up and ready and have an edge to play, it just speaks to how focused we are right now."
It was a far cry from what Indiana experienced a week ago in New York. Or last year at home against Miami.
Last week, the Knicks rallied from a Game 1 loss, using a 30-2 run to blow out Indiana at Madison Square Garden and even the series.
A year ago, the Pacers held a 2-1 lead over Miami but gave away Game 4 and never won again. Miami went on to win the NBA crown.
So the Pacers went into Tuesday night determined not let it happen again, certainly not with former stars Reggie Miller and Rik Smits in the house watching their old team hand it to their old rivals.
"I just think that our focus has been better than it was," Indiana's David West said. "We might have surprised ourselves going in there and getting Game 1. Naturally, we may have had a little letdown, but we talked about maintaining our home court and our focus in these two games and we were able to accomplish that. Our next goal is to compete hard with an opportunity for a close-out game in a tough environment."
The Pacers were strong defensively again, had another big rebounding advantage (54-36) and never really let the Knicks challenge them in the second half. They can wrap up the series Thursday night in New York.
In another game *
At San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for his 143rd career double-double, and the Spurs defeated the Golden State Warriors, 109-91, to take a 3-2 lead in their Western Conference playoff series.
Tony Parker led the Spurs with 25 points and 10 assists.
Harrison Barnes led the Warriors with 25 points.
The series resumes at Golden State tomorrow.
Cleveland guard Dion Waiters has been named to the NBA All-Rookie first team and forward/center Tyler Zeller to the second team. Waiters, a Philadelphia native, was the No. 4 overall selection in last year's draft. He averaged 14.7 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists this season. Among all rookies, he ranked second in points, fourth in assists and fourth in steals per game. Waiters was joined on the first team by Portland's Damian Lillard, the league's Rookie of the Year, Washington's Bradley Beal, New Orleans' Anthony Davis and Golden State's Harrison Barnes.
* Miami star Dwyane Wade received extensive treatment on his bruised right knee and is considered questionable for Game 5 against Chicago tonight. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Wade will be evaluated by the team's medical staff after treatment before his playing status is determined. Wade collided knees with Bulls forward Jimmy Butler in the second quarter of Monday's 88-65 victory, which gave the Heat a 3-1 series lead and put it in position to advance to the conference finals.
* Nate Tibbetts has joined the Portland Trail Blazers as an assistant coach. Tibbetts comes to the Blazers after serving for two seasons as an assistant with Cleveland.