Scorching hot Pacers set playoff mark in Game 7 rout of Knicks

Pacers oust Knicks in Game 7 to advance to Eastern Conference finals (1:57)

The Pacers record one of the best shooting performances in NBA playoff history to overwhelm the Knicks and advance to the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics. (1:57)

NEW YORK -- There was huge anticipation for Sunday to produce a historic Madison Square Garden game. It absolutely did, just not one anyone could've expected.

Improbably and unexpectedly in a road Game 7 situation, the Indiana Pacers had one of the greatest shooting halves in the 77-year history of the NBA. When the stunned New York Knicks tried to recover with a second-half push, the Pacers' superstar and their super-sub stepped in and delivered the final blows.

The result was a 130-109 Pacers victory, eliminating the Knicks by finishing off four victories in five games after falling behind 2-0 in the series. The Pacers will head to Boston to open the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics on Tuesday.

"Well, we're the uninvited guest," coach Rick Carlisle said after the Pacers completed their second consecutive series win over a higher seed. "Here we are. When you win a Game 7 in Madison Square Garden, you've made history. It's very, very difficult to do."

The Pacers ended up shooting 67.1% overall, the highest field goal percentage for a playoff game in NBA history. And that was after they cooled off in the second half.

Adding to the misery for the Knicks, but sadly befitting what befell them in the series, star guard Jalen Brunson suffered a broken left hand during the third quarter. When his father, Knicks assistant coach Rick Brunson, returned to the bench after getting the news in the locker room, he could only hold his head in his hands.

It was already a tough day for Brunson, who was just 6-of-17 shooting for 17 points before exiting.

"It's a part of the game and, like I said, this group, we didn't make excuses for anything," Brunson said. "And so if things happen, we go forward with what we had. Obviously we wanted everyone healthy."

Pacers All-Star Tyrese Haliburton, who had played two tepid and unimpactful games in New York previously in the series, drilled four 3-pointers in Sunday's first quarter alone, injecting momentum into his team and inspiring unending confidence.

After each 3, Haliburton barked at anyone within his eyeline, be it fans, Knicks players (particularly Donte DiVincenzo) and even into the ether. With each make, the Pacers looked more relaxed, and more importantly, they could set up their press that had bothered the Knicks throughout the series.

"That's the game within the game, that's the fun that is this environment," said Haliburton, who left the building wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the famous Reggie Miller choke photo. "I knew today is Game 7; unload the clip, have no regrets. I would hate to be pissed all summer about not shooting the ball today. So for me it was just about coming out playing the right way."

Haliburton finished with 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting.

The Pacers will be heavy underdogs again in their next series vs. Boston; the Celtics opened as -1400 favorites at ESPN BET, while Indiana was installed as +750 underdogs.

The atmosphere was explosive in the first Game 7 in the Garden since 1995. It amped up when Knicks forward OG Anunoby emerged from the locker room tunnel for pregame warmups, as he returned earlier than expected from a right hamstring injury. But it became immediately clear it was a questionable decision to allow him to play.

Anunoby could barely run, and the Pacers couldn't help but notice. They immediately attacked him, going to Pascal Siakam for an easy basket on the opening possession and scoring four hoops on Anunoby in a matter of minutes.

"I was going to test him," Siakam said of his former Toronto Raptors teammate. "I thought he didn't look healthy out there. ... I just wanted to make sure he was OK, but it was a Game 7."

Anunoby thrilled the crowd by making two long jumpers in the game's first three minutes as Knicks fans started to scream about a Willis Reed moment, but the Knicks simply couldn't let him stay on the court.

"I mean it was really a duplicate of the Willis Reed thing ... the guy came in and hit two hellacious shots," Carlisle said. "Those shots were much more difficult than the ones Willis hit with [Wilt] Chamberlain back in the drop or back in the zone."

But Anunoby was out after less than five minutes, and the Pacers had shed any nerves. Their offense flowed with players stepping into jumpers with ease and making shots from everywhere at every angle. Siakam scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half, Haliburton put up 16 and Myles Turner tallied 10 of his 17. The Pacers shot an incredible 76.3% in the opening 24 minutes (29-of-38) and 66.7% from 3-point range (8-of-12). They made 20 of 25 jumpers. They missed as many shots in the paint as beyond the arc.

It was the greatest shooting half in a playoff game on record, beating the 74% the San Antonio Spurs shot during the 2014 NBA Finals in a performance that left some thinking that was one of the finest displays of offensive basketball ever. And the Pacers beat it.

The Knicks made a push in the third quarter, thanks largely to a series of 3-pointers from DiVincenzo (37 points). He ended up with nine treys for the game, setting a Knicks playoff record. Those 3s and some rare defensive stops cut the Pacers' lead from 22 points down to seven and had the Knicks fans thinking they might see something to remember after all.

That's when Carlisle sent in valuable reserve guard T.J. McConnell, who instantly settled the Pacers down and began making plays. McConnell helped force three Knicks turnovers, had two assists and put in two baskets. He was the catalyst in a 15-4 run that reestablished the Pacers' control of the game.

Alec Burks scored 26 points off the bench for the Knicks. Josh Hart, who played through an abdominal strain, received a standing ovation after fouling out in the fourth quarter with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists.

The Pacers no doubt benefitted from injuries to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard in their first-round series before Anunoby, Hart and Brunson were affected. But the sixth seed and heavy underdog Pacers left New York with no apologies and no intention of stopping.