Indiana outpace New York

Paul George of the Indiana Pacers passes the ball during his team's 102-90 win over the New York Knicks at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Pacers will face the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference play-offs.
Paul George of the Indiana Pacers passes the ball during his team's 102-90 win over the New York Knicks at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Pacers will face the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference play-offs.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

INDIANAPOLIS • The Indiana Pacers clinched the seventh seed in the National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference with a 102-90 victory over New York Knicks on Tuesday, avoiding a daunting opening post-season series with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Pacers' win, coupled with the Miami Heat's 99-93 victory at Detroit, means Indiana will now play second-seeded Toronto in the first round of the play-offs.

Detroit (43-38), who squeezed into the post-season at the expense of the Chicago Bulls, will face LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

Indiana (44-37) recovered from a first-quarter blitz that saw New York score 36 points.

Paul George and George Hill anchored the Indiana effort with 19 points each as the Pacers wrapped up a 26-15 home record.

"Teams hit their stride at different times in the season, and we were hoping to enter the play-offs with some momentum," said Indiana coach Frank Vogel.

"We got a great game tonight from George Hill, who we ask to play his game and be aggressive. He does whatever he is asked."

New York's Derrick Williams led the Knicks with 21 points, while Jerian Grant chipped in with 18 and Arron Afflalo 13.

"The Knicks came out hot and negated what we were trying to do, but then our defensive pressure got better, and we were able to get control of the game defensively," George said.

"In the second half, we got some stops and got some easy opportunities, a lot of transition plays."

Knicks coach Kurt Rambis bemoaned his team's failure to blunt the Pacers' attack.

"They were allowed to penetrate, and that created confusion in our defence and allowed them to get open scoring opportunities," Rambis said. "Paul George got himself going, and a lot of that had to do with our execution."

Meanwhile in Michigan, the Pistons tumbled to defeat as Miami improved their chances of securing home-court advantage for the opening round of the play-offs.

Luol Deng scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds while Goran Dragic finished with 16 points for the Heat (48-33). Hassan Whiteside weighed in with 14 points and nine rebounds while Dwyane Wade chipped in 14 points.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led Detroit with 17 points. Marcus Morris added 16 points and nine rebounds.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2016, with the headline 'Indiana outpace New York'. Print Edition | Subscribe