Originally created 05/24/00

Pacers trounce Knicks; take 1-0 lead



INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Pacers brought out the type of potent, balanced offense New York hadn't seen in weeks, and it was too much for the Knicks to withstand.

Getting double-figure scoring from six players and opening an early 18-point lead that the Knicks never fully recovered from, the Pacers defeated New York 102-88 Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Knicks, accustomed to focusing on just one or two offensive threats in the first two rounds against Toronto and Miami, couldn't cope with the many Pacers who all had their touch.

Austin Croshere came off the bench to score a playoff career-high 22 points, while Reggie Miller had 19, Jalen Rose 17 and Rik Smits 16. Dale Davis added 14 points and 16 rebounds, and Mark Jackson had 11 points and 13 assists as the Pacers put together the highest-scoring game against the Knicks in this postseason.

In their first 10 postseason games, the Knicks had not allowed an opponent to score more than 88 points.

The Pacers reached that mark with more than six minutes remaining on a 3-pointer by Croshere that gave them a 14-point lead, and Croshere got them to 100, too, on a 3-pointer with 42 seconds remaining.

Croshere, a bench warmer in last season's Eastern Conference finals when Indiana lost to the Knicks in six games, came off the bench to more than neutralize Marcus Camby.

Shooting 7-for-10 from the field, including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers and 4-for-4 from the free throw line, Croshere reached double figures for the fifth time this postseason and scored eight of his points in the fourth quarter to keep the Knicks safely out of comeback range.

Latrell Sprewell led New York with 22 points, while Patrick Ewing had 21. Allan Houston added 18 points for the Knicks, who were coming off seven grueling, low-scoring games against the defensively oriented Miami Heat.

Running into a different kind of team -- one that can put points on the board quickly and much more easily -- New York allowed the Pacers to score 35 in the first quarter -- a total that the Heat usually wouldn't reach until late in the second quarter or early in the third.

With Smits making five of his first six shots, the Pacers jumped to a 17-7 lead just over six minutes into the first quarter. Croshere hit his first shot, a 3-pointer, to put Indiana ahead 24-13.

A dunk by Davis, a blocked shot by Miller and a 3-pointer by Jackson got the lead up to 14, and Croshere tipped in a missed 3 at the buzzer to give the Pacers a 35-17 lead after the first quarter.

The Knicks got back into it with runs of 8-0 and 9-0, and Indiana's lead was down to 52-48 at halftime after Jackson was called for a flagrant foul against Sprewell on a breakaway with 3.2 seconds left.

The Knicks got within two points early in the third before Rose finally got on the board and scored six of Indiana's first eight points of the quarter. The Pacers went up by as many as nine before the Knicks again cut it to two.

Sprewell and Rose exchanged emphatic dunks on alternate possessions late in the quarter, as clear a sign as any that the Pacers had an answer for every Knicks' run.

It was 78-71 entering the fourth, and the Pacers got their lead back to double digits by opening the quarter with a 7-2 run ending with a layup by Davis while New York was missing seven of its first eight shots.

Notes: Since joining the NBA in 1976, the Pacers have played in 21 playoff series prior to this one. When they win Game 1, the Pacers are 10-0. When they lose Game 1, they are 0-11. In the five previous Knicks-Pacers series, the winner of Game 1 has gone on to win the series. ... The 35 points in the first quarter were two shy of Indiana's playoff record set in Game 6 against Philadelphia in the second round. ... Larry Johnson was a non-factor for New York with just three points and five rebounds. Last year, he was the Knicks' leading scorer in the series against the Pacers before getting injured in Game 6.