(INDIANAPOLIS) — Lance Stephenson scored 25 points and grabbed 10 boards to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 106-99 win over the New York Knicks Saturday.
The win sends the Pacers to their first Eastern Conference final since 2004.
“I just didn’t want to go back to New York and play Game 7,” Stephenson said. “Just get it done with now and I’d do whatever it takes to do that today. It showed tonight.”
George Hill returned to the Pacers’ lineup just two days after being diagnosed with a concussion. He scored 12 points in 42 minutes.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 39 points. Iman Shumpert chipped in 19 in a losing effort.
Indiana trailed 92-90 with just under six minutes to go before Roy Hibbert blocked an Anthony dunk attempt at the rim. That spurred a 13-5 Pacers run that helped them close out the game.
“That’s why they pay me the big bucks this summer, so I have to protect the paint,” said Hibbert, who signed a $58 million contract last summer. “If all else fails, meaning the offense, I have to protect the paint.”
The Pacers will face the Miami Heat, the team that eliminated them from last year’s postseason, in the Eastern Conference finals. Game 1 is Wednesday night in Miami.
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Jill Martin, CNN