Andrew Nembhard’s late 3 gives Pacers 111-106 victory over Knicks. Indiana moves within 2-1


INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tyrese Haliburton limped slowly to the microphone Friday night with a bad ankle, a sore tailbone and a battered body.

He sure didn’t look as though he was hurting in the waning moments of Game 3.

When Haliburton heard New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau calling for a double team, he swung the ball to Andrew Nembhard, who bobbled the pass momentarily before lining up a 31-foot, tiebreaking 3-pointer with 16 seconds to go, giving the Pacers a critical 111-106 victory in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“I probably held the ball a little too long or should have been more aggressive to attack the blitz,” Haliburton said after finishing with 35 points, his second straight playoff career high. “It was a big, big shot. Drew just really stepped up in the moment we needed him.”

So did Haliburton who, at times, almost single-handedly willed the Pacers back from a nine-point deficit in the final 9:45 to get within 2-1 of the Knicks of the best-of-seven series instead of falling into the dreaded 3-0 deficit that no team has overcome.

Indiana is 4-0 at home this postseason and hosts Game 4 on Sunday.

Haliburton finished with 35 points, his second straight career high, and had seven assists.

For Nembhard, it was a redemptive moment. He was scoreless through 46 minutes before breaking free for a tiebreaking layup with 1:55 to go. His only other basket of the game came on that stepback 3.

Pascal Siakam added 26 points and seven rebounds, while Myles Turner had 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers.

“This one means a little more than the one in Los Angeles,” Nembhard said, referring to his regular-season game winner against the Lakers. “I think we kind of got into a little bit of a rhythm playing at the end and it was even kind of random. It opened up some space for guys to make plays.”

Donte DiVincenzo led the Knicks with 35 points, going 7 of 11 on 3-pointers. Brunson had 26 points and six rebounds, including a tying 3 with 42 seconds left, but he barely hit the rim on another 3 that would have tied it at 109 with 13 seconds left.

Brunson entered averaging a postseason league-high 35.6 points and played through a right foot injury. But he acknowledged he didn’t make the right call on the that essentially sealed New York’s loss.

“A terrible decision and something you learn from,” Brunson said after appearing to try to draw a foul on the play. “I knew the time, I knew everything that was going on. I just made a terrible decision.”

Alec Burks, who came in having played 1 minute in the postseason, scored 14 points in 21 minutes for the Knicks, who played without starting forward OG Anunoby. It’s unclear whether Anunoby can recover from his injured left hamstring to play Sunday, although he traveled with the team to Indianapolis.

The Knicks had already lost All-Star Julius Randle and key contributors Bojan Bogdanovic and Mitchell Robinson to season-ending injuries.

Indiana was desperate for a win after blowing second-half leads in each of the first two games and this time, turning the New York fans chants of “Let’s Go Knicks” into the energy needed to fuel their finishing kick with WNBA rookie Caitlin Clark watching from a suite with her boyfriend, Connor McCaffery, and her Indiana Fever teammates.

Haliburton got it started by completing a three-point play and then making back-to-back layups to cut the 98-89 deficit to 98-96. Siakam tied the score at 99 with a three-point play at the 6:58 mark and when DiVincenzo broke free on a fast break, Haliburton swatted the ball away.

Siakam responded by making one of two free throws to give Indiana a 100-99 lead at the 5:42 mark.

The teams traded the lead four more times, with Brunson’s 3 tying the score at 106. Nembhard broke the tie by beating the shot-clock buzzer, the Pacers’ defense got the stop it needed, and Aaron Nesmith sealed the win with two free throws.

“You just tip your cap when a guy makes a 3 like that with the game on the line,” Thibodeau said. “Haliburton had the ball, a pretty good double team I thought, good rotation and he made a tough shot.”



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