NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Sunday, January 2nd (All times eastern)
Indiana Pacers (14-17) at New York Knicks (18-14), 1 p.m.
(Sports Network) - With a tough trip to the Sunshine State now in their rear- view mirror, the New York Knicks hope a return to Madison Square Garden this afternoon for a contest with the Indiana Pacers will get the club back on track.
The Knicks dropped consecutive games in Florida to Eastern Conference heavyweights Miami and Orlando and have lost five of their last seven overall. On Thursday Dwight Howard posted 24 points and 18 rebounds to lead the retooled Magic to a 112-103 victory over slumping New York.
Amare Stoudemire registered a game-high 30 points, and Wilson Chandler added a season-high 29 points and nine rebounds for the Knicks. Stoudemire has now scored 20-plus in 17 straight games, the longest stretch in team history since Patrick Ewing did it for 17 straight back in 1994.
"We did a good job of fighting back," Stoudemire said. "Defensively, they got too many easy baskets on us."
The Pacers, meanwhile, snapped a three-game skid on Friday, winning the back end of a home-and-home set with Washington when Darren Collison had 18 points and six assists to help Indiana take a 95-86 decision over the Wizards at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Danny Granger added 18 points while Roy Hibbert donated 17 points and eight boards for the Pacers, who fell to the Wizards, 104-90, in Washington on Wednesday. Rookie Paul George had career-highs of 13 points and seven rebounds in the win.
"I thought we played well and played a very solid game," said Indiana head coach Jim O'Brien. "I thought our tempo was consistently good. We're making strides but have a long way to go still."
These two teams split a four-game season series a year ago and the Pacers have had some recent success in MSG, especially with Granger in the lineup. Indiana has taken seven of its last 10 in Gotham and is 5-0 at the World's Most Famous Arena when Granger is in the starting lineup.
A decade ago these two clubs were familiar postseason foes, meeting in the playoffs three straight times from 1998-2000. Both have fallen on hard times since but the Knicks look poised to halt a six-season playoff absence, while the Pacers have a chance to end a four-year postseason drought.
01/02 10:30:15 ET