NEW YORK (AP) — RJ Barrett scored 24 of his 32 points in the first half, Julius Randle had 30 points and 16 rebounds in his first game after coming off the COVID-19 health and safety protocols list, and the New York Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers 104-94 on Tuesday night.
Alec Burks added 14 points for New York (18-20), which snapped a two-game losing streak. Immanuel Quickley chipped in with 11.
Kiefer Skyes scored 22 points in the Pacers’ fifth straight loss. Duane Washington Jr. added 17. Domantas Sabonis and Torrey Craig each contributed 15.
The New York-Indiana rivalry in the mid-to-late 1990s was among the NBA’s must-see matchups. This game was far from it, with a decimated Pacers squad taking on a Knicks team nearly back at full strength.
Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Duarte, Isaiah Jackson, Jeremy Lamb, Caris LeVert, Goga Bitadze, Kelan Martin and T.J. Warren all missed the game for Indiana as they were in health and safety protocols. T.J. McConnell did not play as he is recovering from right wrist ligament surgery. By comparison, New York was aided by the returns of Randle, Mitchell Robinson and Jericho Sims from protocols.
It was tied at 55 at halftime, even with Barrett’s huge first half. The Pacers, who trailed by 12 early in the second quarter, finished the final seven minutes of the period with an 18-8 run.
Randle took over in the third, scoring 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, including 2 for 2 from 3. New York led 84-77 after three and Barrett, Randle and Burks took turns knocking down big shots in the fourth.
Pacers: Rick Carlisle will be coaching Indiana at home on Wednesday while his one-time team, the Dallas Mavericks, will retire Dirk Nowitzki’s number before their nationally televised game against the Golden State Warriors. “I’m really disappointed that I’m unable to attend that (ceremony),” Carlisle said. Carlisle coached the Mavericks from 2009-21. “It’s (going) to be so special. … Dirk just means so much to so many of us and he proved to be a great champion as well. It’ll be very emotional.“
Knicks: Coach Tom Thibodeau disagreed that an upcoming stretch of eight games out of 10 at Madison Square Garden could benefit his squad. “We can’t look ahead,” Thibodeau said before the game. “We’re not going to win just because we’re home. That’s not how you win. We’ve got to come in and put the work into it.”
Pacers: Host Brooklyn on Wednesday night.
Knicks: Begin a home-and-home series against Boston on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.