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Knicks in another nail-biter, edge new-look Pacers

Jan 21, 2007 - 5:24 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- The new-look Indiana Pacers were upstaged by another frenetic finish for the New York Knicks.

The Knicks nearly blew an eight-point lead in the final 80 seconds and went down to the final shot for the third straight game but survived for a 108-106 victory over the Pacers, who have lost a season-high four in a row.

Eddy Curry scored 26 points to lead four players with at least 20 for the Knicks, who snapped a two-game slide, with both losses coming by a single point. New York is 6-3 in games decided by three points or less.

"I don't think (the close games) take anything away from us," said Knicks swingman Quentin Richardson, who had 20 points and 13 rebounds. "That's just the reality of the NBA. Right now, we're getting it a little tough, but it's good as long as we can learn from it."

A dunk by David Lee, who had 20 points and 16 rebounds, gave the Knicks a 105-97 lead with 1:19 to play.

But with point guard Stephon Marbury on the bench with an injury, New York committed three straight turnovers, and a 3-pointer and dunk by Danny Granger and a layup by Jermaine O'Neal made it a one-point game with 11 seconds left.

"That's very uncharacteristic of us," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We normally handle pressure very good. When Marbury went out, we just didn't do a good job of handling their pressure. We ended up having people in the wrong place and we just didn't handle it well."

Nate Robinson made two free throws, but O'Neal flipped in a layup with 7.7 seconds to go. Robinson was fouled again and split the pair, giving Indiana a chance to tie or win. But Granger fired an airball on an open 3-pointer.

"I was holding my breath and saying all of the Hail Marys," Thomas said. "I was saying everything I could, because I didn't think we could ... I know I couldn't take another heartbreaking loss at the end."

The loss spoiled the debuts of forwards Mike Dunleavy Jr., Troy Murphy and Ike Diogu, acquired Wednesday in an eight-player deal with Golden State. All three looked lost at times, unsure of where to go on certain plays.

"It's just going to take us a couple of games to learn the plays and learn where we're supposed to be," Murphy said. "I think we struggled out there, both offensively and defensively, as far as being where we're supposed to be and our coverages."

Dunleavy started at guard and scored 14 points on 6-of-17 shooting, playing down the stretch. Murphy came off the bench to collect 10 points and 11 rebounds. Diogu did not score in just six minutes and sat the entire second half.

"It's tough coming out in the first game and not getting a win," Dunleavy said. "We really wanted to do that and we came up a little bit short. In that respect, it was disappointing, but I'm real glad to be here."

"You can't expect a whole lot," said O'Neal, who had 25 points and 10 boards. "We're one of the rare teams that have a lot of sets. We probably have more offensive sets than the Colts. That's tough. For the most part, I was very happy with the way they played, and they probably only knew five plays."

Marbury scored 22 points for the Knicks, who shot 52 percent (34-of-65) from the field and survived 20 turnovers to improve to 8-12 on the road.

"It was evident that we needed to win. I was just upset with the way we won," Richardson said. "Of course, at this point, we'll take any one we can get. Overall, I think it was a good victory, just not a very good ending."

Granger scored 19 points and Jamaal Tinsley added 15 for the Pacers, who shot 44 percent (39-of-89) and were beaten on the boards, 39-33.

Murphy scored five straight points early in the fourth quarter to forge an 85-85 tie. The Knicks responded with a 10-0 run that featured a pair of jumpers from Jamal Crawford and three-point plays from Lee and Marbury.

Tinsley had two free throws and a follow shot to cap an 8-0 spurt before the 6-11 Curry grabbed his first rebound of the game and scored for a 99-95 edge with 2:45 to go.

After two free throws by Tinsley, Marbury sank a 3-pointer and free throw before Lee's dunk.

"You have to give Indiana credit," Thomas said. "They made some plays to stay in it. With a 10- or 12-point lead, we certainly could have executed a little better."

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