To a man, the Knicks came out with a greater sense of urgency in Game 2. Nowhere was that more apparent than on the defensive end.
Sure, the Knicks' offense was humming with an impressive efficiency in the second half. But there was a driving force behind that.
"Defense," Jason Kidd said. "When we limit Indiana to one shot and move the ball, that’s when we’re at our best."
That's exactly what the Knicks did on Tuesday night.
They played the Pacers -- one of the top rebounding teams in the NBA -- to a virtual draw on the boards. (The Knicks had 37 rebounds, the Pacers 35.) And they limited Indiana to just eight second-chance points. Those two factors figured heavily in New York's series-tying 105-79 win.
"We allowed defense to create offense," Tyson Chandler said afterward. "When we’re at our best we feed off our defense."
What you saw Tuesday was quite a departure from the Knicks' effort on defense in Game 1.
In the series opener, the Knicks were outrebounded by 14, outscored in the paint by 14 and destroyed on second-chance points. (The Pacers had 20 to the Knicks' 10.)
So between games, Mike Woodson emphasized the importance of team rebounding and defensive rotations. He also told his players to trap the Pacers' pick-and-roll with a greater sense of urgency.
"I think we all understood what was at stake," Kidd said.
That was evident early on. New York forced Indiana into seven turnovers in the first quarter and had 14 points off of the Pacers' miscues. They held a 29-20 lead after the first.
In the second quarter, it was more of the same as the Pacers turned it over five more times leading to six Knicks points.
But Woodson didn't like what he saw from his interior defense. Indiana outscored New York, 30-24, inside in the first half.
"Coach really brought that to our attention at halftime," J.R. Smith said.
Whatever Woodson said worked.
The Knicks outscored the Pacers in the paint, 28-10, in the second half. They outrebounded Indy 23-16 and held them to just four second-chance points. The Knicks also limited the Pacers starting guards to six rebounds, 12 fewer than they grabbed in Game 1.
"It was a team effort," Tyson Chandler said.
The defense won't get talked about much on Wednesday, but it was one of the driving forces behind New York's 30-2 game-clinching run spanning the third and fourth quarters.
"That’s what put us in position to score the basketball," Woodson said. "We kept getting stop after stop."