Carmelo Anthony rescued the Knicks in the nick of time Monday night.
After watching his teammates relinquish a 17-point lead over the final 17 minutes, New York's star forward finally took matters into his own hands.
With the score tied at 103 and 23.4 seconds left, Anthony beat a switch and knocked down a 14-foot baseline jumper to help the Knicks hold on for a rare victory at Indiana, 109-103 over the Pacers.
"I don't even want to think about that - if this one got away," Anthony said after scoring 26 points and grabbing five rebounds. "This is the time where we have to come together as a group and lock in and figure this thing out."
This time, they finally got it right.
The win ended a two-game skid overall and a nine-game regular-season losing streak at Indiana, where the Knicks last won on March 17, 2012. And after his team was 6-7 in games decided by four or fewer points, Anthony made sure New York came out on top this time.
Yes, an overly aggressive Anthony drew a foul that sent his Olympic teammate, Paul George, to the free throw line with a chance to tie the score at 103 with 42 seconds to go. The league's top free throw shooter didn't miss.
But after the Knicks called a timeout, Derrick Rose found Anthony in the perfect spot and he took care of the rest. Rose finished with 20 points and six assists.
"It was devastating - what, three, four losses were like this? Five or six games like this?" Rose said. "All of them are devastating. This one would have been another one on the list. Like I said, it makes you a better team."
For a while, it looked as though the Knicks would coast.
After falling into a 14-point hole, they charged back with a 40-point second quarter to take a 62-58 halftime lead and extended the margin to 84-67 with 4:58 left in the third quarter.
George, who had 31 points and seven rebounds, and Myles Turner, who had 22 and 10, quickly led the Pacers back. They cut the deficit to 86-75 after three, got within 100-99 on Turner's acrobatic dunk off a rebound and finally tied the score on George's free throws.
But Anthony answered with his clutch basket, Turner dropped a pass that rolled out of bounds and the Pacers didn't score again.
"The second quarter was a huge quarter," Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. "When you play like that, you've got to make plays down the stretch."
Knicks: Courtney Lee and Willy Hernangomez each had 14 points. Justin Holiday finished with 13. ... Injured forward Lance Thomas (fractured left orbit) has rejoined the team and been fitted for a new mask but is not yet ready to play, coach Jeff Hornacek said. ... New York shot 22 free throws in the first half and finished 31 of 35 from the line.
Pacers: Have lost three straight. ... C.J. Miles replaced Glenn Robinson III in the starting lineup and scored 10 points but missed a 3-pointer from the corner in the closing seconds. ... Indiana was outscored 18-3 on fast-break points. ... Indiana has lost four games this season after leading by double digits.
While George received his Olympic ring from USA Basketball before the game, he was not the only gold medalist in the building.
Dream Team member Larry Bird took his usual seat in the corner near the Pacers bench. Former Pacers star and 1996 gold medalist Reggie Miller sat at the broadcast table. Anthony, of course, was on the court with George, and in the stands was outspoken Indiana University swimmer Lilly King.
Miller had a photo taken with King before the game and told reporters he became a big fan of King's because of her brash talk in Rio.
Knicks: At the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday.
Pacers: Thursday at Minnesota, where they have won two in a row.