INDIANAPOLIS -- Travis Best, who got the Indiana Pacers out of the first round, helped move his team within one victory of the final round.
Best scored a career playoff-high 24 points Wednesday night, including 15 in the fourth quarter, and the Indiana Pacers rallied from an early 18-point deficit to defeat the New York Knicks 88-79 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.
''It's a great feeling being one win away from the championship. We're in a great position and want to go to New York and close this series out,'' Best said.
If he has another fourth quarter like this one, the Pacers might actually get to the NBA Finals after coming so close so many times.
Game 6 will be Friday night at New York, and the Pacers will be looking for the first road win by either team in this series. Early on, it looked like the Knicks would earn that distinction as they jumped out to a 37-19 lead behind the inspirational return of Patrick Ewing.
So dominant were the Knicks and so inept were the Pacers, the fans actually booed the home team off the court during a timeout early in the second quarter.
It wasn't the first time they had booed during the playoffs. They did it in Game 2 of the first round against Milwaukee, and again during Game 5 of the second round against Philadelphia.
But the difference this time was that the Pacers responded to it.
''If they were booing us, then good. We made them look bad,'' Mark Jackson said. ''We worked all season long to have a homecourt advantage, and they have to realize the importance of it.''
The Pacers turned that huge early deficit into a two-point lead by halftime, closing the second quarter with a 23-3 run.
They steadily built their lead in the second half, getting strong games from Best, Jackson, Jalen Rose and Reggie Miller, and didn't let the Knicks back within striking distance in the fourth quarter.
Best had his best game of the series, while Rose had 18 points and seven rebounds. Miller had 16 points and Jackson added 11 points, seven assists, no turnovers and a new gesture -- an Indiana version of Larry Johnson's ''Big L,'' crossing his arms over his head or in front of his chest after big baskets.
The strong games by Indiana's point guards made up for below-par games by big men Rik Smits (no points, four rebounds) and Dale Davis (10 points, six rebounds).
Best shot 7-for-11 for the Pacers, who made 10 3-pointers, went 20-for-25 at the line and committed only seven turnovers.
''We've seen these guys so many times, we don't have to come out with many new schemes,'' said Best, who hit a 3-pointer against Milwaukee at the end of Game 5 in the first round to give the Pacers that series. ''We just need to help each other out. When we do that, we go to another level.''
The Knicks had 32 points in the first quarter in building their big lead, then scored just eight in the second and 15 in the third.
Notes: A handful of Knicks fans got tickets in the first three rows despite a public plea from the Pacers asking scalpers not to sell the best seats to New Yorkers. Spike Lee had a seat in the second row. One fan who claimed to have paid $1,250 for his second-row seat was ejected in the fourth quarter. Another fan sitting next to Lee came close to getting tossed. ... The Knicks had the lowest-scoring playoff quarter in their history with the eight points in the second period. The previous record was nine against Philadelphia in 1983.
Sprewell 4-14 2-2 10, Johnson 2-8 0-0 4, Ewing 5-10 3-5 13, Houston 10-20 2-2 25, Ward 4-6 1-2 11, Thomas 4-7 0-0 8, Camby 0-3 5-6 5, Childs 1-7 0-0 3. Totals 30-75 13-17 79.
Rose 5-15 5-5 18, Davis 4-7 2-4 10, Smits 0-6 0-0 0, Miller 6-16 2-2 16, Jackson 4-10 2-2 11, Croshere 1-5 0-0 2, Best 7-11 8-10 24, McKey 0-1 0-0 0, Perkins 2-8 1-2 7. Totals 29-79 20-25 88.
New York 32 8 15 24 -- 79
Indiana 17 25 21 25 -- 88
3-Point Goals--New York 6-15 (Houston 3-5, Ward 2-3, Childs 1-4, Johnson 0-1, Sprewell 0-2), Indiana 10-26 (Rose 3-5, Best 2-3, Perkins 2-5, Miller 2-9, Jackson 1-3, Croshere 0-1). Fouled out--None. Rebounds--New York 51 (Ewing, Sprewell, Thomas, Ward 7), Indiana 53 (McKey 9). Assists--New York 16 (Ward 7), Indiana 17 (Jackson 7). Total fouls--New York 25, Indiana 18. A--18,345 (18,345).
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