INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George scored seven points in a 13-0 fourth-quarter run and finished with 24, leading the Indiana Pacers past the short-handed New York Knicks 81-76 on Thursday night.
The Pacers (22-14) have won 12 of 15, including a sweep of the other two Eastern Conference division leaders – Miami and the Knicks – this week.
New York (23-12) was led by J.R. Smith with 25 points on a night they clearly missed Carmelo Anthony. The NBA’s second-leading scorer was suspended by the league for Monday’s postgame confrontation with Boston’s Kevin Garnett.
Without Anthony, the Knicks fell nine points below their previous season-low point total (85) and shot just 34.8 percent from the field.
New York rallied from a 49-38 third-quarter deficit and started the fourth with a 60-58 lead.
But George changed the game with his quick scoring flurry, which gave Indiana a 71-62 lead. Indiana never trailed again.
CAVALIERS: Center Anderson Varejao had surgery to repair a split leg muscle, an injury that could sideline him two more months.
Varejao had the operation at The Cleveland Clinic. The team said he is resting comfortably and will be kept overnight. Varejao, the NBA’s leading rebounder, has been sidelined since getting hurt against Toronto on Dec. 18. His injury was initially believed to be just a bad bruise, but further testing revealed that the quadriceps muscle tore near his right knee.
He is expected to miss at least six weeks. Varejao, one of the league’s hardest working and hustling players, has missed more than 100 games over the past three seasons with injuries.
Varejao was averaging 14.1 points and 14.4 rebounds when he got hurt.