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Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013

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Wicked move: New York's J.R. Smith goes up for a dunk over Indiana's Ian Mahinmi in the first half on Thursday night. The Pacers defeated the Knicks 81-76. AP

Streaking Pacers fend off Knicks

AP

INDIANAPOLIS — First the Heat, now the Knicks.

The Indiana Pacers are proving they can beat up on everyone in the Eastern Conference these days.

Paul George scored seven of his 25 points during a decisive 13-0 fourth-quarter run, leading the Pacers past New York 81-76 on a night the Knicks were without their top scorer, Carmelo Anthony. Indiana has won 12 of 15 and swept the two other Eastern Conference division leaders this week.

"We want to compete for the one and two (seeds) and for sure want to compete for the No. 1 spot," George said. "We probably could be pushing one or two if we would have started off playing the way we're playing right now."

Clearly, the Knicks (23-12) weren't the same without their All-Star forward, who was suspended for the game after Monday's postgame confrontation with Boston's Kevin Garnett. They finished with a season-low point total, shot just 34.8 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.

And the Pacers (22-14) took Anthony's absence by pulling off a rare double — beating defending champion Miami and Atlantic Division-leading New York — in back-to-back games.

It's about time. The Pacers came into this season with high expectations, but struggled early as they tried to adjust to life without their top scorer, Danny Granger, who still has not played because of a left knee injury.

Now, they're rolling. Indiana has won nine straight home games, their longest streak since 2002-03, and their suffocating defense limited the short-handed Knicks to just three points over the final 6½ minutes of the first quarter and into 11 straight misses during the opening part of the fourth.

"They did what they had to do to secure the win," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said.

Nobody did more than Indiana's new leader.

George started the game by missing his first five shots, but wound up finishing 10 of 24 from the field. He also had 11 rebounds, six steals, five assists and one block on a night point guard George Hill played with bronchitis and All-Star center Roy Hibbert left twice with a bad back.

But George got help from some surprising places.

Ian Mahinmi finished with 13 points and six rebounds, and Lance Stephenson added nine points and seven rebounds.

"He (George) is just blossoming in front of our eyes with special performance after special performance after special performance," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "He's leading our defense, which is becoming a beast and our guys are embracing that identity."

It wasn't just Anthony who was missing for New York. He spent the day at the team hotel.

Doctors also told Woodson to limit Amare Stoudemire to 21 minutes as he tries to work his way back from October knee surgery. Stoudemire wound up playing 21:31 and scoring nine points, and the Knicks lost starting forward Marcus Camby for all but 2½ minutes of the second half after the longtime veteran re-injured his left foot.

Without those three, the Knicks were led by J.R. Smith, who had 25 points and almost single-handedly rallied New York in the second half. Tyson Chandler had 12 points and 15 rebounds, and nobody else scored more than eight.

Trail Blazers 92, Heat 90

In Portland, Wesley Matthews made a 3-pointer to put the hosts in front with 26.9 seconds left and the Trail Blazers hung on to beat Miami for their fourth straight win and ninth in a row at the Rose Garden.

Portland held LeBron James to 15 points, snapping his 54-game streak with at least 20 points that dated back to last season.

Miami led by as many as 13 points but lost for the fifth time in eight games.

Nicolas Batum led the Blazers with 28 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 20 points and 15 rebounds. Matthews finished with 18 points.

Chris Bosh had 29 points for the Eastern Conference-leading Heat.

Mavericks 117, Kings 112 (OT)

In Sacramento, O.J. Mayo had 24 points and 10 rebounds, Vince Carter scored 23 points off the bench and Dallas rallied from 17 points down to beat the hosts in overtime.

Shawn Marion added 19 points and 10 rebounds to help the Mavericks snap a four-game losing streak. Dallas, which had lost 10 of 11, finished its short road trip 1-2.

The Kings' DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and nine rebounds before getting ejected in overtime for elbowing Carter in the face.

Move talk a distraction

AP

SACRAMENTO, California — Aaron Brooks has been in an awkward spot since news surfaced that the Sacramento Kings could be sold and moved to his hometown of Seattle.

The Kings guard has no answers for family and friends who have been calling and texting for information. Even the excitement his brother, Alvertis, had when he showed up for a visit evaporated once he realized those in Sacramento might feel the same sorrow as when the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

"Seattle does need a team. But you would hate to have a team leave a city you know wants a basketball team," Brooks said. "It's unfortunate."

For Sacramento players, coaches and fans, this is not an easy time.

In the first game since the latest — and perhaps most serious — round of relocation talks began, the Kings lost to the Dallas Mavericks in overtime Thursday night, with chatter around the aging arena seemingly centering on everything but basketball.



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