INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Knicks have played some of their best basketball in the first game of each of their three playoff series. Their Game 2s have been a different story.
"We've talked about staying hungry, but we talked about that in Miami and were down 23-15 at the quarter, and we said the same thing before Game 2 in Atlanta and were down 13-2," coach Jeff Van Gundy said."So we've said all the right things, but we haven't done it yet. If we come out like we have in all the Game 2s, we're going home with a loss."
The Knicks seem to be sitting in the driver's seat heading into tonight's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Pacers will be trying to avoid falling into a 2-0 deficit that history has shown to be almost impossible to overcome.
Only seven teams have come back from such a deficit in a seven-game series, and only two, the 1994 Houston Rockets and 1969 Los Angeles Lakers, made such a comeback after losing the first two games at home.
"Everybody knew this series was going to be a war. Now we have one," Indiana's Jalen Rose said.
Rose was one of several players singled out for criticism by Indiana coach Larry Bird.
The coach was displeased that Rose got sucked into one-on-one confrontations with Latrell Sprewell. He also said Rik Smits will need to get involved earlier offensively, and Reggie Miller will have to avoid foul trouble.
What Bird was most upset with was his team's defense, especially in transition.
The Knicks scored 22 points on fast breaks, capitalizing on the athleticism and quickness that has distinguished this year's version from past New York teams.
"We like to think that our strength is defensive transition, but it wasn't there," Smits said. "We have to bust our tails and get back."
Miller called on his teammates to raise their games -- especially if the Knicks concentrate their defense on stopping the most famous Knicks killer of them all.
"It's up to the other guys to take it personally," Miller said. "We wouldn't have gotten this far if it wasn't for the contributions of everyone else. If they're going to go out and not let me get the last shot and not get my touches and make everyone else beat them, if I'm the other four guys on the court or the guys on the bench, I take it personal."