The Knicks fumbled a fourth-quarter lead in Indiana missing an opportunity to take a commanding series lead, leaving the door open for the Pacers.

The New York Knicks (2-1) dropped Game 3 on the road to the Indiana Pacers (1-2) by a final score of 111-106. Despite some late game excitement, as always, and some real contributions from their bench, the Knicks had to watch as a desperation heave by Andrew Nembhard sealed their fate and their loss at the end of the contest.

The Knicks were even more shorthanded than they were entering this series just two games ago – OG Anunoby was out with a hamstring injury he sustained during Game 2, and they would of course still be down Mitchell Robinson (ankle), Julius Randle (shoulder), and Bojan Bogdanovic (foot, hand).

The first opened with a Josh Hart three, a welcome sign as the Knicks really needed to find offense without Anunoby on the floor. Pascal Siakam responded with a quick layup while being defended by Precious Achiuwa, who was starting in place of Anunoby. The defensive pressure on Jalen Brunson from the Pacers to open the game was fierce, forcing the ball out of his hands and forcing New York players around him to score. New York’s defense, on the other hand, looked a bit lost when it came to assignments and switching. They were leaving Pacers players wide open from three, and that led to a quick lead for Indiana. The Knicks were being dared to find scoring from Achiuwa especially, who was being given the most space of all players on offense. Things were sort of falling apart early for them, with Indiana able to have Haliburton on the floor with their bench unit and setting the table perfectly for his teammates against a porous Knicks defense. With about three minutes left in the quarter, the Knicks were starting to piece things together defensively and get stops, but on the other end, with an injured Brunson and turnovers piling up, they were unable to tie things back up but at least managed to stay within eight through one.

In the second, the Knicks just had to tread water and find scoring outside of Brunson, who was clearly playing hurt. Deuce McBride hit a quick three to help them out on that front, and the previously exiled Alec Burks hit a much-needed jumper after that. Siakam also got into foul trouble early in the period, forcing Rick Carlisle to bench him. DiVincenzo hit a deep three ball to get them to within two of Indiana, and hit another tough jumper to maintain that short distance. Burks then tied things up and finished the and-1 play to get them a one point lead, a shock considering how poorly things started in this one. Things went back and forth in the middle portion of the second, but Haliburton was burning New York from three and specifically burning DiVincenzo, who was playing him too aggressively on defense. Brunson hit just his second field goal – a three – with about five minutes to go in the quarter. Burks then hit a huge three to get them back the lead. But, the Pacers responded immediately by pushing the pace again and forcing the Knicks to run with them, opening shots back up for Haliburton from deep. They were only down five to finish the first half, and that was with a struggling Brunson and a red-hot Haliburton.

Indiana started the scoring in the second half with a quick Myles Turner layup, and Tom Thibodeau wanted an immediate timeout as the lead ballooned to seven in seconds. After a lengthy challenge and timeout and a call being overturned in favor of the Knicks, they got things back to within six. DiVincenzo then hit several big buckets to get them back to within three, but again, Haliburton responded with a three to increase the lead again, and Siakam hit two shots right after to get them back up by 11. The Big Ragu was keeping them in it, though, getting them back to within eight with yet another three in transition. Back and forth these two teams went, with the Knicks starting to finally capitalize on some misses from Indiana and the Pacers just barely managing to stay in control. DiVincenzo was still keeping them in it, and it was a one point lead with just under three minutes to go in the third. They then grabbed a four-point lead behind some inspired defensive stands and made in transition from DiVincenzo and Hart. The Knicks, improbably but with much to be encouraged by, were up five headed into the fourth.

The fourth opened with yet another three from DiVincenzo, his 35th point, and the lead was eight for New York. The Knicks’ defense was looking much cleaner than it was in the first, switching but communicating. Siakam was also getting attacked in the paint more consistently, testing his foul trouble and opening up another lane for scoring. McBride continued to break out of his slump, hitting a three to bust up some of Indiana’s regained momentum after they scored. With about eight minutes left, the pace was stagnant and the postseason energy was palpable as the Pacers fought back to make it a two point game. Siakam managed to draw Hart on him with about seven to go, hit a shot on him and drew a foul to make it a one point game and potentially tie things up at the line – and he did. With four to go, Indiana held a slim one point lead and New York had lost some of the spark offensively that got them back into the game in the first place. Fortunately for them at this point, the Pacers were unable to separate themselves. New York gained a one point lead with just under four to go with a Brunson bunny, but lost it again with a charge drawn by Siakam. The Pacers then went up by two with about two to go after a huge block on a Hart layup in transition by Turner. The Knicks desperately needed a stop with the clock winding down and it being a one point difference. Then, DiVincenzo caught a timely goaltending violation, putting Indiana up by three. Brunson hit a humongous three with 30 seconds left in the contest, but Nembhard hit a desperation heave to get Indiana back up by three. New York had just 16 seconds left to tie, and Brunson wasted it looking to draw a foul on a three point attempt. They did not end up getting another chance to win or tie, and they went down 2-1 with another thrilling end.

DiVincenzo had a team-high 35 points along with three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block. Brunson finished up with 26 points, six assists, and one steal, while Hart had a postseason-high 18 boards along with 10 points, four assists and two steals. Isaiah Hartenstein had eight boards, six points, five assists, and one block, while Achiuwa had six rebounds, five points, and three blocks in his start.

Burks had a solid showing off the bench, recording 14 points along with four rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. McBride had ten points, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal. Jericho Sims got some burn but recorded no stats.

The Knicks now have to wait until Sunday to try and get up 3-1 on the Pacers and split this road trip, with tip-off set for 3:30pm EST.

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