NEW YORK (AP) — Bennedict Mathurin scored 26 points to lead the Indiana Pacers to a 141-136 win over the New York Knicks on Sunday in the regular season finale for both teams.
Mathurin was one of seven Pacers to finish in double-figure scoring. Jordan Nwora and Andrew Nembhard each had 19 points. George Hill had 17 points, Buddy Hield had 15 points off the bench, Aaron Nesmith chipped in 14 points and Oshae Brissett added 12. Indiana completed its regular season with three wins in its final 10 games to finish the season 35-47.
“We did a lot of good things,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Shot the ball well.”
Obi Toppin scored a game-high 34 for New York, which finished the regular season with a 47-35 record, and the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. They will meet fourth seed Cleveland in the first round.
“They definitely have, obviously a really really good player over there,” RJ Barrett said, referencing Donovan Mitchell. “I think it’s going to be a dog fight and I’m personally excited.”
Immanuel Quickley had 30 points, Quentin Grimes had 22 on 8-of-13 shooting, Barrett finished with 18 points and Josh Hart had 10 points before being ejected in the fourth quarter.
With neither team having anything of significance to play for, the current iteration of the Knicks and Pacers authored a performance that was in no way reminiscent of their 1990s predecessors’ battles.
Entering the fourth quarter, New York led 107-100. Indiana then went on a 13-5 run over the first three minutes to take a 113-112 lead. Following a timeout, the Pacers extended the advantage to 117-112.
New York closed to within two on Toppin’s step-back 3, but Indiana ended the game by out-scoring the Knicks 24-21. The spurt was highlighted by Mathurin’s breakaway dunk.
“Definitely haven’t guarded the way we wanted to,” Quickly said. “But we feel like that’s what we hang our hat on. We have to get back to that. Especially with the matchup coming; that has to be our main focus.”
Pacers: It will be a playoff-less spring in Indiana for the third straight season, but Carlisle believes the starting backcourt of rookies Nembhard and Mathurin are building blocks for a brighter future. “Their competitiveness is probably the biggest thing overall,” Carlisle said during his pregame media availability, when asked about the duo’s attributes. “They both have skill. … Ben has an inner drive. It’s very unique for (a) first-year player. He really has an insatiable desire to be great and is willing to do the work. I think Drew is similar.”
Knicks: One of the themes for Tom Thibodeau in the 2022-23 season has been incremental improvement, which is what he has seen from his team. “When you look at where we ended up or where we are right now, it’s been a quantum leap but sometimes you don’t recognize that as you go through it,” Thibodeau said. “We’re a well-balanced team.”
Prior to the game, the Knicks announced the signing of forward Isaiah Roby. Per team policy, terms were undisclosed. Roby averaged 4.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 42 games with San Antonio this season. Over the course of his four season career with San Antonio and Oklahoma City, Roby has averaged 7.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. … Julius Randle (sprained left ankle), Jalen Brunson (right hand injury maintenance), and Duane Washington Jr. (bilateral hip soreness) missed the game for New York with injuries, while DaQuan Jeffries (strained right calf) was listed as questionable. Randle, who injured the left ankle in the Knicks’ 101-92 win over Miami on Mar. 29, watched early shooting from courtside and did not have a walking boot on. Thibodeau said the All-Star is “making good, steady progress.” … The decision to hold Brunson out of the game was “precautionary,” according to Thibodeau. New York’s starting point guard has been dealing with a sprained wrist. … Indiana center Myles Turner missed the game with left ankle soreness.