An Andrew Nembhard Answered Prayer Helped The Pacers Beat The Knicks In Game 3

Just like that, the Indiana Pacers are back in their Eastern Conference Semifinal series. It wasn’t always pretty, but Indiana was able to defend its homecourt on Friday night against the New York Knicks, as the Pacers won a 111-106 slugfest to cut the Knicks’ series lead to 2-1.

Indiana looked like a team that had an extra pep in its step playing in front of its home crowd. The team raced out to a 14-4 lead, and showed the offensive firepower and defensive peskiness that made them a difficult team to play this season.

With just under seven minutes remaining, New York saw its biggest fear come true, as Jalen Brunson had to limp off the floor with a foot injury. The team trailed by eight at the time, and the potential for the Pacers to open things up without the All-Star on the floor existed. Instead, the Knicks were able to play Indiana to a draw, both during the stint when Brunson was on the bench and nearly the remainder of the quarter, as the Pacers took a 29-20 lead into the second behind a 10-point quarter from Tyrese Haliburton.

It didn’t take long for the Knicks to erase that lead at the start of the second quarter. Thanks in large part to a hot stretch by Donte DiVincenzo, New York took a 36-35 lead less than four minutes into the frame.

Indiana was able to settle itself and go on an 11-2 run right after giving the lead up, with Haliburton drilling back-to-back triples, before New York ripped off 11 points in a row to go back ahead. And after Myles Turner evened things up at the charity stripe, Haliburton caught fire.

The Pacers went on a 7-0 run, with every point coming via their All-Star guard. Haliburton was locked in throughout the first, but in a stretch where Indiana needed someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck, he came up huge.

Indiana ultimately took a 63-58 lead into the locker room, with Haliburton’s 23 points leading the way. Both Turner and Pascal Siakam chipped in 12 points, while the team hit eight of its 17 attempts from three. DiVincenzo’s 15 points led the Knicks, with Brunson and Burks both going for 13. Like Indiana, New York made eight threes in the half, only theirs came on 13 attempts.

The Pacers were able to extend their lead out a bit early on in the third, as the team got its lead up to as many as 11 points.

The big reason it wasn’t larger was DiVincenzo, who helped keep afloat early on in the third. And then, New York found a groove on both ends of the floor, ripping off a 24-6 run that left the crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse completely stunned as DiVincenzo 17 points in the period.

An Isaiah Jackson bucket at the very end of the quarter meant New York’s lead going into the fourth was 90-85, but Indiana had an uphill task ahead of it, as the shorthanded Knicks seemed to have caught a second wind in the third that completely knocked the Pacers off of their game.

New York continued to extend its lead early on in the fourth quarter, getting it up to as many as nine points before Haliburton decided it was winning time. With the Pacers trailing, 98-89, Haliburton ripped off seven points in a row to get his team right back into it.

After a Brunson free throw, Indiana came back down the floor and got the ball to Siakam, who scored, drew a foul, and hit the ensuing free throw to tie things up at 99 with just under seven minutes to play. And after both teams traded a few empty possessions with one another, Siakam got back to the line and split a pair of free throws to put the Pacers back ahead.

Neither team was able to create all that much separation down the stretch, with both teams going ice cold from the floor at the same time and neither team being able to open up a lead of more than a point or two. Right as the Pacers looked like they got thrown a lifeline when DiVincenzo unnecessarily committed a goaltend on a Siakam layup that was never going in to put them up by three with 54 seconds left, Brunson came right back down and drilled a stepback to tie things back up.

And then, something crazy happened. The Knicks played stellar defense on the ensuing possession, and all Indiana could get was a prayer from Andrew Nembhard. The basketball gods were in a good mood, apparently, because the shot went in.

New York had no way back from there, and as a result, Indiana was able to secure the win. Haliburton had his best game of the series, going for 35 points, seven assists, four rebounds, two steals, and a block. Siakam pitched in 26 points and seven rebounds, while Turner had a double-double with 21 points and 10 boards. For the Knicks, DiVincenzo scored 35 points, with Brunson going for 26. Josh Hart also had a double-double with 10 points and 18 rebounds.

Game 4 between these teams will take place on Sunday afternoon. It’s scheduled to tip off at 3:30 p.m. EST on ABC.