Patrick Ewing promised a Game 7 on Sunday, and he made sure there was one.
In his best game of the series with Indiana, Ewing had 25 points and 15 rebounds Friday night in the New York Knicks' 92-82 victory, forcing the Pacers back to Madison Square Garden for a deciding game in the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 92-82 victory.Ewing, who won Game 5 for the Knicks on a shot with 1.8 seconds to play, had a key basket and rebound in Friday night's final two minutes to hold off a furious fourth-quarter comeback by Indiana.
"I'm a great player," he said, "and I want to prove that."
On Sunday, he will have a chance. The winner will advance to play the Orlando Magic, which eliminated Chicago on Thursday night to win the series 4-2. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals will be Tuesday at Orlando.
Before the game, Ewing had told reporters, "See you Sunday," foretelling a repeat of last year's Eastern Conference finals, when the Knicks won Game 6 at Indiana to send the series back to New York.
Now they're headed back again, and the Pacers, who lost Game 7 last year in the conference finals, have lost what was once a 3-1 series lead.
"We put ourselves in this position," said Indiana coach Larry Brown, whose team shot 35 percent.
After a 13-point third quarter that left them down by 13, the Pacers came roaring back to cut New York's lead to three on two free throws by Reggie Miller with 5:32 left. But they couldn't get any closer.
Miller's first field goal didn't come until the fourth quarter, when his 3-pointer with 9:46 to play trimmed the lead to 72-63.
"We had Reggie in control," Knicks coach Pat Riley said. "You knew that somehow they were going to make a run. We held on and made a run of our own. We weathered the storm."
After the Pacers got within three, Miller committed two turnovers, Rik Smits was called for an offensive foul, and New York pumped the lead back up to eight on Ewing's hook with 1:50 left.
Ewing got a big rebound after Derrick McKey missed an open jumper. Byron Scott missed a long jumper, and the Pacers ran out of time.
Ewing had 15 first-half points and hit nine of 13 field goals. He looked healthier and stronger than he had earlier in the series, when a calf injury hampered his mobility.
"The first few games, I wasn't 100 percent," Ewing said. "I couldn't move and jump like I wanted to. Those three days (between Games 4 and 5) definitely helped. I had a lot of energy."
Miller finished with 18 points and Smits had 21, but once again, the Indiana center wasn't a factor late in the game, scoring just four points in the final period.
And Miller wasn't a factor early.
"Rik had it going in the first quarter and beginning of the third quarter," Miller said. "I've got to take 20-plus shots for this team to win. I can't settle for 13."
Chased around the court by John Starks, Miller missed all four of his shots in the first half and had just two points. Starks also had two points in the half, finishing with 12.
Miller didn't start the third quarter any better, missing his first two shots. His teammates were just as cold, and the Knicks put together a 14-2 run, building a 63-53 lead with 5:19 left in the period.
Indiana's 3-of-16 shooting in the quarter silenced the Market Square Arena crowd. But only until the Pacers came back in the fourth quarter.
With the loss, Indiana found itself in the same position as last year, when they had a 3-2 lead over New York in the Eastern Conference finals with an opportunity to close out the series at home, but the Pacers lost 98-91.
In a game that was physical from the opening tipoff, the Knicks led by as many as six points in the first quarter and by five late in the second. Byron Scott hit a 3-pointer to start a 9-3 spurt for the Pacers, who took a 43-42 lead at halftime.