INDIANAPOLIS -- When Indiana Pacers coach Larry Brown walked into his team's locker room before Game 3 of its Eastern Conference finals series with the New York Knicks, he said he wasn't sure if anyone in the room believed they could beat New York.
By late afternoon, the Pacers had not only beaten the Knicks, they had dissected them. And the sellout crowd of 16,530 at Market Square Arena had everyone's ears ringing with its never-ending cheering.
Patrick Ewing, the Knicks' 7-foot, 240-pound Goliath, had just one point and went 0-for-10 from the field, as the Knicks scored a record-low total for a playoff game in losing, 88-68. "I can't remember anything like this," said Knicks guard Derek Harper. "No one remembers a game like this."
No one remembers any superstar in any NBA playoff series being shut out from the field for an entire game and winding up with just one lonely point.
And Ewing, who was guarded by Rik Smits and Antonio Davis with help from nearly everyone else at one time or another, had to think all the way back to his first game at Rindge & Latin High School in Cambridge, Mass. "I had one point and fouled out," Ewing said. "My coach just said 'Come back next game.'
"The Pacers came out and played aggressive, and unfortunately I didn't have a big game for our team. I'm paid a lot of money to be the hero. I'm paid a lot of money to be the goat."
"Patrick's play was an aberration," said Knicks coach Pat Riley. "I'm not going to think about it."
The Pacers did more than simply get between Ewing and the basket and force him into unwise shots. They gave themselves life going into Game 4 here tomorrow, by making themselves believers.
Could they beat the Knicks? They had lost six straight to New York, and in the first two games of this series they did little to back up their own words.
In back-to-back losses at Madison Square Garden, the Pacers didn't match the Knicks' efforts.
"When we said, 'We can beat Orlando,' we could feel it, believe it. And when we said, 'We can beat Atlanta,' it was the same way. But when we said, 'We can beat New York,' it didn't sound right," said Pacers guard Lester Conner, who contributed 11 big minutes in the backcourt with Haywoode Workman yesterday when Reggie Miller and Dale Davis found foul trouble early.
"We didn't say it with any conviction," said Conner. "But this win, this is a booster shot. It's like we've gone from 'I hope we can beat them' to 'I think we can beat them' to 'I know we can beat them.' "
The Pacers had set the NBA record for fewest points in a playoff game just eight games ago when they scored 69 while losing Game 2 to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinal series, which they won in six games.
The Knicks shot 34.4 percent (22-for-64) yesterday, the lowest -- percentage Indiana has allowed in a playoff game. Their 22 field goals were one more than the NBA playoff record low for a game. New Jersey had 21 against New York this season.
The Pacers played their best defense of the season, and held the Knicks to just one field goal in the last 8:46 of the third period. New York shot 8-for-29 in the second half and managed only 29 points, just two more than the NBA record low.
Derrick McKey, who had been 2-for-16 in the first two games and criticized for it, delivered 6-for-11 from the field and a team- and game-high 15 points. His nine rebounds also helped Antonio Davis, Dale Davis and Smits control the backboard, as New York was out-rebounded, 46-30.
The Knicks are now 8-0 at home in the playoffs and 1-5 on the road.
The lowest point totals by one team in NBA playoff history since the 24-second shot clock was instituted for the 1954-55 season:
Pts. ... ... Team ... ... ... ... Opponent ... ... ... ... Date
68 .. .. ... New York ... ... ... Indiana .. .. .. ... ... 5/28/94
69 .. .. ... Indiana .. .. .. ... Atlanta .. .. .. ... ... 5/12/94
70 .. .. ... Golden ... ... .. .. St. Lakers .. .. ... ... 4/21/73
70 .. .. ... Seattle .. ... .. .. Houston ... ... .. .. .. 4/23/82
71 .. .. ... Syracuse .. .. .. .. Ft. Wayne .. .. .. .. .. 4/7/55
71 .. .. ... Houston ... .. .. .. Boston ... ... ... .. .. 5/9/81