Knicks defeat the Pacers, clinch No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference
The New York Knicks have earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, and with it the chance the rest some aching bodies.
Anthony scored 25 points on 9-for-23 shooting against the rugged Indiana defense, and the Knicks wrapped up the second spot with a 90-80 victory over the Pacers on Sunday.
The Knicks are back on the court Monday at Charlotte, but Anthony doesn't think he'll be joining them with nothing left to play for in the regular season.
''I always said today was a real important game for us to come in and lock down (the No. 2 seed),'' Anthony said. ''It was a big game for us so now guys can get their rest, I can get my rest and come back full speed ready for the playoffs.''
Chris Copeland added 20 points and J.R. Smith had 15 for the Knicks, who will host seventh-seeded Boston next weekend. New York is guaranteed the home-court advantage for the first two rounds of the playoffs after finishing a distant second to Miami in the conference.
Anthony didn't play in the fourth quarter, ending his streak of 30-point games at seven, after he bruised his left shoulder when he was fouled by Sam Young in the third. Anthony had gone to the scorer's table to check back in with around 4 minutes left, but was called back to the bench after Raymond Felton's basket pushed the lead back to 12.
The Knicks won for the 15th time in 16 games and locked up their highest seed since they were also a No. 2 in 1994.
''It's a good feeling to be in this position, to have home-court advantage for two rounds if we're lucky enough to make it that far,'' Felton said. ''And just setting goals early in the year and accomplishing them is really big. We're definitely happy now, not satisfied, though.''
Lance Stephenson scored 22 points and David West had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Pacers, who came into the game with a chance to catch the Knicks for second but had to settle for wrapping up No. 3 after Brooklyn lost 93-87 at Toronto.
''Coach came in here and told us. We weren't satisfied with that,'' All-Star Paul George said. ''Of course we felt we earned it playing throughout the year, but we haven't really earned it as far as getting the win and solidifying it ourselves. That's really how it's been. We're just not taking care of business.''
The Pacers committed 26 turnovers that led to 33 points and shot 61.5 percent at the free throw line, losing for the fourth time in five games with a sloppy offensive performance. Coach Frank Vogel will rest some of his players, too, noting George's 1-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.
''Got a couple of guys banged up and a couple of guys with dead legs,'' he said. ''I mean, Paul George's 3-point shot is not even close. He's been playing too many minutes. Miami's had the luxury to rest some guys and Boston's had the luxury to rest some guys. We're going to take advantage of that.''
Anthony got the Knicks off to a quick start and the Pacers could never get particularly close. But their physical play slowed him down enough to end his hopes of catching teammate Amare Stoudemire's Knicks record of nine straight 30-point games.
After Monday, the Knicks close out the regular season at home against Atlanta on Wednesday. Coach Mike Woodson said he expected to rest some players and would ask certain players what they wanted to do. Anthony, who took a pounding Sunday, might sit out the finale, too, after his recent surge that moved him to the top of the league scoring race.
Then it's Boston, a veteran team that appears more dangerous than the average No. 7 seed.
''They're a very good team,'' reserve Steve Novak said. ''I think Knicks and the Celtics is kind of storied, been a rivalry for quite a while. So we understand that it's a big series and we have to go through everybody to get where we want to go.''
Anthony leads the NBA with 9.0 points per first quarter, and got there Sunday in just 2 minutes, 20 seconds. He finished with 13 points in the period as New York led 23-15.
Copeland hit consecutive 3-pointers during a 15-2 spurt early in the second, and the lead grew to 41-21 on Novak's 3-pointer with 7:03 remaining in the half. The Knicks still led by 15 with 3 1/2 minutes left, but Indiana turned to an effective zone defense and scored seven straight to get back into it, cutting it to 47-40 at halftime.
The Knicks had it back to 13 in the third after back-to-back baskets by Smith, but Indiana hung close and was within single digits early in the fourth before the Knicks pulled away again.
Without Tyson Chandler and Kenyon Martin, the Knicks started Solomon Jones, who was signed Friday to give them some size against Pacers center Roy Hibbert. He was scoreless in 14 minutes.
Woodson said the Knicks should have their size back in time for their playoff opener, with Chandler (bulging disk) and Martin (sprained left ankle) both getting better. He also said Rasheed Wallace, recovering from a broken bone in his left foot and out since December, also could be available this week.
Notes: Woodson said Wallace has been running and shooting the last few days and could play in one of the remaining two regular-season games if he feels up to it. ... Boston swept New York in the first round in 2011. ... Woodson couldn't get out of the way quick enough and was hit with the ball when West fired a pass out of bounds in the first half.