Knicks turn the tables on the Pacers

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The Independent Online
The New York Knicks bounced back from a nightmare ending to game one with a dream second half in game two to level the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-finals with the Indiana Pacers at one game each.

Patrick Ewing scored seven of his 15 points in a decisive 20-2 third quarter run to lead the Knicks to a 96-77 romp over the Pacers. New York had blown a six-point lead with 18 seconds left on Sunday when they allowed Indiana's Reggie Miller to score the final eight points of the game.

They gave Miller no chance for such heroics in game two. The Pacers' All-Star guard was held to just two points in the second half when the Knicks outscored Indiana 48-27. Indiana's 27 second-half points tied an all-time play-off low for points in a half.

The Pacers held a 50-48 halftime lead, but a different New York came out for the second half. The 20-2 run that started the third quarter gave the Knicks a 68-52 lead. New York outscored the Pacers 30-13 in the quarter for a 78-63 lead and stretched their advantage to as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter.

"We play better with our backs against the wall," Ewing said. "We can win in Indiana if we stay focused." Derek Harper led the Knicks with 24 points and John Starks added 19. Dale Davis led Indiana with 13 points. Rik Smits, who had 34 points in Game One, and Miller finished with 10 points apiece. The series shifts to Indiana for games three and four today and Saturday.

In Phoenix it was the first half by the Suns that brought the defending NBA champions, Houston Rockets, to their knees. The Suns shot 68 per cent from the field and scored an amazing 75 points in the first half en route to a 130-108 rout of the Rockets in game one of their best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final.

Charles Barkley scored 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and A C Green added a play-off career-high 25 points and 15 rebounds to inspire Phoenix.

Barkley hit 10 out of 14 shots from the field and did not play in the fourth quarter after Phoenix built a 106-81 lead after three quarters. Green was 8-of-12 from the field and a perfect 9-of-9 from the free throw line.

Barkley scored 22 of his points in the first half when Phoenix built a 75-57 lead. The Suns also controlled the boards, out-rebounding Houston 48-29.

Kevin Johnson chipped in 21 points and 13 assists for the Suns, while Sam Cassell scored a career-high 31 points to lead the Rockets.

Houston had only one day of rest after beating the Utah Jazz on Sunday in the decisive fifth game of their first-round series, while the Suns had six days to prepare after completing a three-game sweep of Portland last Tuesday.