The Indiana Pacers finally figured it out.
When given the chance to take command of a playoff series, they can’t give it back. On Tuesday night in Indianapolis, they didn’t.
George Hill scored 26 points and Paul George had 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists, leading the Pacers past the New York Knicks, 93-82, and to within one win of their first conference finals appearance since 2004.
‘‘We wanted it,’’ George said. ‘‘For us to come out with that edge, still, after being up, 2-1, and being on our floor for Game 4, for us to be up and ready and have an edge to play, it just speaks to how focused we are right now.’’
It was a far cry from what Indiana experienced a week ago in New York. Or last year at home against Miami.
Last week, the Knicks rallied from a Game 1 loss, using a 30-2 run to blow out Indiana at Madison Square Garden and even the series.
A year ago, the Pacers held a 2-1 lead over Miami but gave away Game 4 and never won again. Miami went on to win the NBA crown.
So the Pacers went into Tuesday night determined not let it happen again, certainly not with former stars Reggie Miller and Rik Smits in the house watching their old team hand it to their old rivals.
‘‘I just think that our focus has been better than it was,’’ Indiana’s David West said. ‘‘We might have surprised ourselves going in there and getting Game 1. Naturally, we may have had a little letdown, but we talked about maintaining our home court and our focus in these two games and we were able to accomplish that. Our next goal is to compete hard with an opportunity for a close-out game in a tough environment.’’
The Pacers were strong defensively again, had another big rebounding advantage (54-36), and never really let the Knicks challenge them in the second half. They can wrap up the series Thursday in New York.
Desperate New York tried everything to change the script. Nothing worked.
Kenyon Martin played 29 minutes and J.R. Smith logged 31 despite missing practice Sunday and Monday because they were ill. Guard Iman Shumpert started even with a sore and swollen left knee that had the Knicks so worried they brought an orthopedic doctor to Indy to examine it Tuesday. The doctor determined there was no structural damage.
Amare Stoudemire was called for four fouls in 11-plus minutes in his second game back since March 7 and had only 4 points and four rebounds.
NBA scoring champion Carmelo Anthony finished with 24 points before fouling out with two minutes left in the game. He took only four shots in the fourth quarter and was held without a basket over the final 12 minutes for the second straight game.
Smith, the NBA’s top sixth man, scored 19 points, most coming in a futile attempt to rally his team late.
And on a night New York shot just 35.6 percent from the field and 28.6 percent on 3-pointers, the ugliest part may have been how the Knicks lost their composure, giving away points on technical foul calls, arguing with the refs, even smacking the press table in frustration.
‘‘I can’t lose hope,’’ coach Mike Woodson said. ‘‘It takes four games to get out of this series. We go home, we handle our business and we get back here on Friday and see if we can force Game 7.’’
Spurs 109, Warriors 91 — Tony Parker had 25 points and 10 assists and host San Antonio held Golden State’s starting backcourt to 13 points to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Kawhi Leonard added 17 points, Danny Green scored 16, and Tim Duncan had 14 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.
Harrison Barnes scored 25 points, Jarrett Jack added 20, and Carl Landry 16 for Golden State. No other Warriors player had more than 9 points.
The Spurs held Mark Jackson’s self-proclaimed ‘‘greatest shooting backcourt’’ in NBA history to 6-for-22 shooting. Stephen Curry finished with 9 points, going 1 for 7 on 3-pointers, and Klay Thompson was held to 4 while not even attempting a 3.
Curry has not missed any time since turning his right ankle late in Game 3, but the injury seemed to limit his explosiveness.
Leonard stripped Curry, then outran him to the ball midway through the first quarter, feeding Parker for an uncontested layup. Curry appeared to grimace when he attempted to push off to sprint for the loose ball.
The Spurs led for all but the opening six minutes.