Knicks pull away in fourth, end Pacers' 5-game win streak

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Kelenna Azubuike (L) of Golden State Warriors dunks the ball during an NBA basketball game against New York Knicks in New York, the United States, Nov. 13, 2009. Knicks lost the game 107-121.

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 19 -- There wasn't much mystery around the New York Knicks' first victory in 16 days. the NBA team played defense in the second half, and did it with intensity.

Because of that, Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said things turned drastically.

The Knicks (2-9), who had lost six straight games, outscored the Pacers 34-17 in the fourth quarter to cap a 110-103 win at Conseco Fieldhouse. It was rare comeback performance for New York, too, as it came back from the 19-point hole it was in with just over 15 minutes remaning.

"They're all nice, and obviously we hadn't had a lot (of victories)," D'Antoni said. "We came out in the second half and we adjusted. We came out with better intensity, and it worked out."

The Pacers (5-4), who beat the Knicks on November 4 in New York for their first win of the season, had their five-game win streak snapped. That run was tied with Cleveland and Atlanta for the NBA's longest entering Wednesday night's game.

The Pacers hadn't won five consecutive games in five seasons.

"We went into their building and desperately needed a win and got it and they came into our building desperately needing a win and got it," said Pacers coach Jim O'Brien.

The Knicks outscored the Pacers 27-7 over the last 7:30, holding Indiana to 4-of-16 fourth-quarter field goals. The Pacers shot 8-of-30 in the second half after shooting 26-of-44 in the first.

O'Brien said the fourth-quarter troubles went beyond one surprising mid-November home loss, a loss that came in the second game of the Pacers' first back-to-back of the season.

"They wore us out in the fourth quarter," O'Brien said. "We tend not to move well in the fourth quarter."

The Knicks' defense was stifling throughout the second half. Most notably, it stifled Danny Granger.

Granger, the Pacers' All-Star forward, continued an early-season hot streak in the first half. With Granger scoring 30first-half points, the Pacers took a 69-54 lead, but after shooting 11-of-14 in the first half, 5-of-6 from 3-point range, he scored just three points in the second half.

"Our offense got kind of stagnant and they just outplayed us down the stretch," said Granger, whose first half helped Indiana to its highest first-half point total of the season.

Granger took just four second-half shots.

"We just overplayed everything he got," D'Antoni said. "We made him work harder to get the ball. We contested every one of his shots."

Said Granger, "We still should have moved the ball and scored. We turned it over too much. We really couldn't score the ball tonight."

After leading by one at the end of the first quarter, the Pacers pushed the lead to 15 with a 43-point second quarter in which they shot 76.2 percent from the floor. Granger shot 6-of-7, including 3-of-3 from 3-point range, to finish the quarter with 17points.

Forward Dahntay Jones, who continues to develop into a reliable scorer in his first season with Indiana, scored 10 of his 25 points in the quarter.

"It's definitely a learning experience for us as a growing team," said Jones, who signed as a free agent in the off season with Indiana. "We have to close out games better than that. No matter how many we won in a row, we should have taken advantage of that situation."

The Knicks cut the Pacers' lead to 10 entering the fourth period, and instead of holding off the rally as they did in a victory over New Jersey Tuesday. Granger said the Pacers allowed too many easy baskets inside.

"They were scoring too easily around the bucket," Granger said." They hit some 3s, and we couldn't score at the other end. Credit their defense."

With Indiana struggling offensively, the Knicks had one of their best offensive performances of the season in the second half, with their bench outscoring the Pacers for the game 65-22.

Former Indiana forward Al Harrington had a team-high 26 points, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, off the bench, and forward Larry Hughes had 22 points.

Harrington had three of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and all three of Hughes' came in the third quarter, including the one that started the comeback.

"We came up and hit shots," Hughes said. "We came out a little slow and sluggish in the first quarter. We can't get into a situation where we panic. We're not in that big of a hole. There is so much season left, but we do need to start to put it together. We needed this tonight."