INDIANAPOLIS — First the Heat, now the Knicks. The Pacers are proving they can beat up on everyone in the Eastern Conference these days.
Paul George scored seven of his 25 during a 13-0 fourth-quarter run, leading the Pacers past New York 81-76 on a night the Knicks were without their top scorer, Carmelo Anthony. Indiana has won 12 of 15 and swept the two other Eastern Conference division leaders this week.
"We want to compete for the 1 and 2 (seeds), and for sure want to compete for the No. 1 spot," George said. "We probably could be pushing 1 or 2 if we would have started off playing the way we're playing right now."
The Knicks weren't the same without their All-Star forward, who was suspended after Monday's postgame confrontation with Boston's Kevin Garnett. They finished with a season-low point total, shot just 34.8 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.
The Pacers pulled off a rare double — beating defending champion Miami and Atlantic Division-leading New York — in back-to-back games.
Coach defends Garnett: Celtics coach Doc Rivers said Garnett's trash talk that lead to Anthony's one-game suspension did not include the wife of the Knicks player. "Well, No. 1, I know what's been reported did not happen," Rivers said on a Boston radio station. "I know that as a fact." Garnett and Anthony jawed on the court, an argument that extended to the tunnel after the game. Anthony was suspended for confronting Garnett and approaching him at the team bus. "A guy does something crazy like Carmelo did, and the way to get out of trouble is to say, 'Well, he said this,' " Rivers said.
Snag to Kings sale? The Maloof family, led by brothers Joe and Gavin, that owns the Kings wants to maintain a say in how things are run if they sell to Chris Hansen, but that could create a problem in sale negotiations, the Seattle Times reported. The Maloof family has owned the Sacramento team since 1998 and wants to keep a percentage that allows it some say.
Sticking by his Lakers: Executive vice president Jim Buss told a Los Angeles radio station his team needs to play enough games together to figure out why it has underachieved. "In my mind, we would not consider a temporary fix or blow it up. Why blow up something we have a future with?" Buss said. "I feel that if we put it together, we can string seven or eight games in a row and dig ourselves out of this hole."
Around the league: Former Blazers No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden, who had his latest knee surgery almost a year ago, said he wants to resume his playing career but not before the 2013-14 season, ESPN reported. Several teams, including the Heat, have expressed interest. … Cavs center Anderson Varejao had surgery to repair a split leg muscle near his right knee and is expected to be out for two months.
Pacers 81, Knicks 76
NEW YORK (76): Copeland 3-9 2-2 8, Camby 3-9 1-1 7, Chandler 5-10 2-3 12, Kidd 3-10 0-0 8, Brewer 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 10-29 4-5 25, Stoudemire 4-11 1-2 9, Prigioni 0-2 0-0 0, Novak 1-4 0-0 3, Thomas 2-5 0-0 4. Totals 31-89 10-13 76.
INDIANA (81): George 10-24 2-2 24, West 3-11 0-0 6, Hibbert 1-4 2-4 4, Hill 2-6 1-1 6, Stephenson 3-6 2-2 9, Green 3-8 0-0 7, T.Hansbrough 1-8 4-4 6, Augustin 0-0 0-0 0, Mahinmi 6-7 1-1 13, Pendergraph 2-5 2-2 6. Totals 31-79 14-16 81.
New York 14 20 26 16— 76
Indiana 16 23 19 23— 81
3-Point Goals—New York 4-20 (Kidd 2-9, Novak 1-3, Smith 1-4, Prigioni 0-1, Copeland 0-3), Indiana 5-21 (George 2-8, Stephenson 1-2, Hill 1-5, Green 1-5, West 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—N.Y. 59 (Chandler 15), Indiana 52 (George 11). Assists—N.Y. 14 (Smith 6), Indiana 16 (George 5). Total Fouls—N.Y. 18, Indiana 19. Technicals—Chandler, Smith, Stephenson. A—16,568.