Pacers, on roll, host short-handed Knicks
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The Indiana Pacers are poised to finish strong before the All-Star break.
Indiana is coming off Friday's 97-91 victory at Boston, the Eastern Conference leader.
The Pacers (31-25) will play the short-handed New York Knicks (23-33) in Indianapolis on Sunday. They also play at Brooklyn on Wednesday.
"It was a big win, obviously we have a lot of work to do," Indiana guard Victor Oladipo told Fox Sports Indiana. "We just have to build on it."
The Pacers led by as many as 26 points, but the Celtics rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter.
"I think down the stretch we just did a great job of calming down, getting stops, and got great looks on the offensive end," Oladipo said. "We had a big lead, but they're a great team and they're the best team in the East for a reason.
Oladipo scored 30 or more points for the ninth time this season, finishing with 35 points on 15-of-29 shooting, 10 rebounds and five steals.
Oladipo was battling illness, which caused him to miss Monday's game with Washington. Wednesday's game at New Orleans was postponed because of a leaky roof. Oladipo said he still wasn't 100 percent but didn't think about it (while) he was playing."
"I thought our guys showed toughness from the start," Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. "We knew (the Celtics) were going to come back and give us a shot, and they did in the third quarter. Our guys just hung in there. They kept their composure, started to execute, move the ball and knocked down some shots. I'm really happy with how we finished the game."
New York suffered a huge setback when leading scorer Kristaps Porzingis tore the ACL in his left knee on Tuesday night.
Luke Kornet, a 7-foot-1 power forward from Vanderbilt, scored 11 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots in his NBA debut, a 113-88 loss at Toronto.
"Once I got out there, it felt like playing any other game," Kornet told reporters after the loss to the Raptors.
The Knicks had traded Willy Hernangomez on Wednesday for 2020 and 2021 second-round picks. Kornet is on a two-way G-League contract. He is allowed 45 days with New York until he must be added to the 15-man roster.
The Knicks obtained point guard Emmanuel Mudiay from Denver and he will make his debut with the team on Sunday.
"It's good, a young player, good for our future," fellow New York point guard Frank Ntilikina told MSGNetworks.com. "We both can play off the ball. Both can play with the ball. It gives us a lot more options. We're going to bring each other to the top to make the Knicks a competitive team."
Meanwhile, New York guard Tim Hardaway Jr. is struggling. Hardaway, who missed six weeks with a stress reaction in his lower leg, shot well the first four games back. But he has made just 13 of 60 shots in his last five games.
"I'm just trying to focus on basketball and do every little thing," Hardaway told reporters. "I know it's a struggle right now. I'm not going to harp on it."
The Knicks also will be without center Enes Kanter, who is sidelined after having oral surgery.
The Pacers will play their third consecutive game without guard Darren Collison, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Pacers rookie forward T.J. Leaf is listed as questionable with a sore left calf.
Updated February 10, 2018