Paul George continued his ascent into the class of the NBA’s scoring elite on Wednesday night, leading Indiana with a dominant second-half performance as the Pacers bounced back from their first loss of the season, outlasting the struggling New York Knicks’ 103-96 in overtime at Madison Square Garden.
Led by George’s 35 points, 28 of which were scored after the first-half, Indiana turned things around after the break despite trailing 42-37 at the start of the third quarter, forcing the extra period through a combination of hustle, toughness, and just plain luck.
With just 5.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter and the Knicks up by three points, the win looked as though it was in the books until New York’s Iman Shumpert fouled George on a three-point attempt, sending the young guard to the line and giving him the only opportunity that he needed to tie the game and force an extra five minutes.
Outscoring the Knicks 9-7 in overtime by himself, George also added five rebounds, four assists, five steals, and a pair of blocks in the victory, while George Hill chipped in with 23 points and eight boards for the visitors.
Carmelo Anthony led the way with 35 points and a season-high 18 rebounds for the Knicks, who were wirhout the services of Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, and Raymond Felton due to various injuries.
Andrea Bargnani had 10 points and eight rebounds, while Beno Udrih contributed 19 points and four assists for the Knicks who fall to 3-8 and have now lost six straight games at home with their last and only win at MSG coming on opening night against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Despite getting off to a solid start in the first quarter, New York was once again unable to hold on for the victory, and now find themselves either tied for third, or last place, (depending on how you want to look at it), with the equally frustrating Brooklyn Nets in a division that doesn’t have a single team with a winnig record and is currently led by the 5-7 Toronto Raptors.
The Knicks will have Thursday and Friday off before starting a four-game road trip on Saturday that will include stops in Portland, Los Angeles, and Denver, and begins with a visit to Washington on Friday night.
The Pacers will play the third and final game of their current three-game road trip in Boston on Friday night, before heading home on Saturday to face Philadelphia 76ers.