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Knicks beat Pacers, clinch second seed in Eastern Conference

Associated Press

4/14/2013 6:28:28 PM

NEW YORK -- Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points on 9-for-23 shooting against the rugged Indiana defence, and the New York Knicks clinched the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 90-80 victory over the Pacers on Sunday.

Chris Copeland added 20 points and J.R. Smith had 15 for the Knicks, who will host seventh-seeded Boston next weekend. New York is guaranteed the home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs after finishing a distant second to Miami in the conference.

Anthony didn't play in the fourth quarter, ending his streak of 30-point games at seven, after he bruised his left shoulder when he was fouled by Sam Young in the third. Anthony had gone to the scorer's table to check back in with around 4 minutes left, but was called back to the bench after Raymond Felton's basket pushed the lead back to 12.

The Knicks won for the 15th time in 16 games and locked up their highest seed since they were also a No. 2 in 1994.

Lance Stephenson scored 22 points and David West had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who came into the game with a chance to catch the Knicks for second but will have to settle for holding off Brooklyn for third. Indiana remains two games ahead of the Nets, who lost 93-87 at Toronto.

The Pacers committed 26 turnovers that led to 33 points and shot 61.5 per cent at the free throw line, losing for the fourth time in five games with a sloppy offensive performance.

Anthony got the Knicks off to a quick start and the Pacers could never get particularly close. But their physical play slowed him down enough to keep him from closing in on teammate Amare Stoudemire's Knicks record of nine straight 30-point games.

The Knicks close out the regular season with games at Charlotte on Monday and at home against Atlanta on Wednesday. Coach Mike Woodson said he expected to rest some players and would ask certain players what they wanted to do. Anthony, after taking a pounding Sunday, is likely to take time off after his recent surge that moved him to the top of the league scoring race.

Anthony leads the NBA with 9.0 points per first quarter, and got there Sunday in just 2 minutes, 20 seconds. He finished with 13 points in the period as New York led 23-15.

Copeland hit consecutive 3-pointers during a 15-2 spurt early in the second, and the lead grew to 41-21 on Steve Novak's 3-pointer with 7:03 remaining in the half. The Knicks still led by 15 with 3 1/2 minutes left, but Indiana turned to an effective zone defence and scored seven straight to get back into it, cutting it to 47-40 at halftime.

The Knicks had it back to 13 in the third after back-to-back baskets by Smith, but Indiana hung close and was within single digits early in the fourth before the Knicks pulled away again.

Without Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin, the Knicks started Solomon Jones, who was signed Friday to give them some size against Pacers centre Roy Hibbert.

Woodson said the Knicks should have their size back in time for their playoff opener, with Chandler (bulging disk) and Martin (sprained left ankle) both getting better. He also said Rasheed Wallace, recovering from a broken bone in his left foot and out since December, also could be available this week.

Notes: Woodson said Wallace has been running and shooting the last few days and could play in one of the remaining two regular-season games if he feels up to it. ... Boston swept New York in the first round in 2011. ... Woodson couldn't get out of the way quick enough and was hit with the ball when West fired a pass out of bounds in the first half.