NEW YORK -- Tyler Hansbrough knows he has doubters, his old
coach perhaps among them.
He's getting a chance now, and the Indiana Pacers hope his hard
work can get them into the playoffs.
"I don't know if he's trying to prove anything, I just think he
has a motor that is really unparalleled in this league," interim
coach Frank Vogel said. "Nobody goes harder than that kid. Nobody
in the league plays harder than Tyler Hansbrough."
Hansbrough scored a career-high 29 points, Dahntay Jones added
18 in place of leading scorer Danny Granger, and the Pacers snapped
a six-game losing streak with a 106-93 victory over the New York
Knicks on Sunday night.
Though a former college player of the year during a decorated
career at North Carolina, Hansbrough was expected to be a late
first-round pick because of doubts over how he could transition to
the NBA. The Pacers took him 13th in the 2009 draft, but he sat out
much of his rookie season after a summer shin injury, and coach Jim
O'Brien wasn't giving the forward heavy minutes this season before
he was fired in January.
Vogel has made Hansbrough a starter and he's responded with four
straight games of 20 or more points.
"I got a chip on my shoulder," Hansbrough said. "A lot of
people don't feel like I deserve to be in the league, the coach
didn't play me in the past because I don't know why, so I come in
the gym every day, try to get a little better and prove a point."
Darren Collison added 16 points for the Pacers, who were in
control all night and moved back into a tie with Charlotte for the
eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Roy
Hibbert had 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.
"Our goal was to not let them try to get a run and it worked
tonight, so we have to face this beast again and hopefully we can
try to do some of the same things," Jones said.
Stoudemire scored 28 points for the Knicks, who lost their
second straight. Anthony added 25 but shot just 9 for 22.
"The rhythm's not there. I don't know if it's the attention to
details, the energy, but it just wasn't right. We were off-kilter
in our offense," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Defensively,
it looked like we wanted to try to do it, almost like when you're
in quicksand, they start kicking and they go down faster. They just
weren't solid with anything."
New York had Chauncey Billups back in the lineup after he missed
six games with a bruised left thigh, but both he and the Knicks'
offense were a step slow. He had nine points and shot 4 of 14,
while reserve Toney Douglas, who played well starting in Billups'
place, missed his first nine shots and finished with three points
on 1-of-12 shooting.
Despite the Pacers' skid, Vogel said before the game he was
"encouraged" by how hard his players had been working, saying he
believed the worst was behind them. The Pacers rewarded his
confidence, dominating the game on both ends despite missing the
20.6 points per game from Granger, who had the flu. Indiana shot 57
percent and held New York to 37 percent.
The Pacers will go for the home-and-home sweep Tuesday against
the Knicks, who have started to believe they can finish fifth in
the East. But the way they performed Sunday, they should be more
concerned with holding off Philadelphia to avoid falling into
"The luxury about the NBA is that we get a chance to come back
Tuesday and play the same team. I know in my mind I'm going to be
thinking about this game and this loss tonight," Anthony said. "I
just want my whole team to be on the same page with me when we step
on that court Tuesday."
Madison Square Garden was at its energetic best while the Knicks
were out of town this week during Connecticut's historic run
through the Big East tournament. The Knicks sleepwalked through
their return home, taking the buzz right out of the building and
even hearing boos during a lopsided third quarter and again at the
"I think that we were a little stagnant out there offensively,
didn't quite get into a great rhythm and defensively we didn't play
well, we didn't play with the energy we needed, and so as a result
we lost," Stoudemire said.
Indiana led by eight at halftime, then got 13 points in the
third from Hansbrough while extending the lead to 20. The Pacers
were 9 of 14 in the period -- Hansbrough made 5 of 6 -- and held the
Knicks to 30 percent shooting. Making matters worse for New York,
Anthony and Stoudemire both had to go to the bench with their
fourth fouls during the period.
The Knicks never trimmed the deficit below double-digits in the
Indiana raced to an early eight-point lead before New York
answered with a flurry, taking its first lead when Billups grabbed
a rebound, flung a long outlet pass with his left hand to Anthony,
who made the basket and was fouled. His free throw made it 17-16,
but Indiana quickly recovered and led 29-21 after one, shooting 59
The Pacers led by as much as 13 in the half, outshooting the
Knicks 60.5 percent to 39.5 percent and taking a 54-46 advantage to
the locker room.
Pacers G A.J. Price, who played at UConn, was at MSG on
Saturday to watch former teammate Kemba Walker lead the Huskies to
the Big East tournament championship. ... It was the Knicks' first
home game since announcing that season ticket prices would increase
an average of 49 percent next season.