Knicks 103, Pacers 95
NEW YORK (AP) _ Two nights after getting a broken nose, Charles Smith scored 21 points off the bench, keying a third-quarter spurt that helped the New York Knicks hand the Indiana Pacers their first loss of the season, 103-95 on Thursday night.
In a contentious game that illustrated the bitter rivalry that has developed between the teams, 54 fouls were called, play was physical and tempers were short.
Pacers coach Larry Brown was ejected with 4:54 remaining after drawing two quick technicals from replacement officials Mike Bobiak and Tom Drakeford. Brown, who had spent most of the game protesting various calls and no-calls made by the substitutes, refused to leave the court and continued to berate Drakeford, who repeatedly tried to turn away from the coach.
Finally, Indiana assistants Gar Heard and Billy King succeeded in dragging Brown away.
The last time the Pacers visited the Garden, it was for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Indiana avenged a 1994 conference finals loss to the Knicks when Patrick Ewing’s finger roll hit the back of the rim just before the buzzer, giving the Pacers a 97-95 victory.
Derek Harper led the Knicks with 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Ewing added 21 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks and John Starks scored 18 points.
In the third quarter, the Knicks smothered Indiana, which scored only 16 points and missed 12 of 18 field goal attempts.
A 17-6 run, highlighted by eight points from Smith, gave the Knicks a 67-57 lead with 16.3 seconds left in the period.
Smith was wearing a plastic mask to protect the injury sustained when he took an elbow from Phoenix’s Charles Barkley on Tuesday night,
New York kept going in the final quarter, increasing its lead to 83-67 on a 3-pointer by Harper with 7:07 left. After Brown was tossed with 4:54 to play, the Pacers fell behind by 20 points, and both teams pulled their starters.
Reggie Miller started off hot, hitting four of his first five shots and finishing the first half with 13 points. Early in the fourth quarter, he went to the bench after bruising his shooting hand but came back to finish with 27 points.
He and his Knicks nemesis, Starks, got into a chin-to-chin jawing match in the first quarter as teammates tried to separate the two. Before the argument could escalate, Knicks coach Don Nelson sent Starks to the bench.
After leading by as many as five points late in the half, the Pacers held a 42-41 halftime edge.
The game marked the Knicks debut of former Los Angeles Clippers guard Gary Grant, signed as a free agent by New York on Wednesday.