Knicks hope to slow Tyrese Haliburton, Pacers

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The New York Knicks knew they would be challenged on defense during a three-game trip that includes clashes against the highest-scoring teams in each conference.

But New York’s offense has been problematic, too.

The Knicks will look to salvage the finale of their post-Christmas trek Saturday night when they face the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.

New York will complete a back-to-back set after a late comeback fell short Friday night in a 117-108 loss to the Orlando Magic. The Pacers were off Friday after defeating the host Chicago Bulls 120-104 on Thursday night.

While the Knicks were outrebounded 49-40 on Friday, they generally performed better on defense than on Wednesday, when the Oklahoma City Thunder — who lead the Western Conference with an average of 121.2 points per game — shot 54.4 percent from the field, including 43.8 percent (14-for-32) from 3-point range, in a 129-120 victory.

New York limited the Magic to 44.9 percent shooting Friday, including just 21.2 percent (7-for-33) from beyond the arc, but the Knicks were doomed by a poor second quarter. They were outscored 29-15, missed all nine of their 3-point attempts and were outrebounded 16-9 in the decisive frame.

The Knicks, who got within five points twice in the final minute but allowed the Magic to score on their final four possessions, finished 6-for-30 (20 percent) from beyond the arc and committed 16 turnovers — only two fewer than New York had against the Thunder.

“The start of the second quarter was a problem,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Then our rebounding wasn’t good enough. High turnovers. We still had a chance at the end, but we couldn’t get a stop late when we needed it.”

No team has made it harder to produce a defensive stop than the Pacers, who lead the NBA with an average of 126.1 points per game despite enduring a minor slump over the past two weeks.

Indiana has scored 120 points or less three times in its past four games and four times in the past seven games. The 120 points they put up against the Bulls were the fewest they have scored in a victory this season.

However, a historic effort by Tyrese Haliburton — who had 21 points and 20 assists with no turnovers — ensured the Pacers of a win at Chicago. Haliburton became just the second player since 1985 to record at least 20 points and 20 assists without committing a turnover. Chris Paul had 20 points and 20 assists with no turnovers for the Los Angeles Clippers against the New Orleans Pelicans on Dec. 10, 2016.

Haliburton also saved the Pacers in the fourth quarter, when he had eight points and five assists. Indiana squandered a 25-point lead and fell behind 93-90 with 7:51 left before closing the game on a 30-11 run.

“You know at some point in the game it’s going to be a rock fight, and that’s what it was,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “So we weathered it. The score will be a bit deceiving, but it’s a good win for us.”

–Field Level Media

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