NEW YORK (AP) — T.J. Warren had 27 points and eight rebounds, leading the Indiana Pacers to a 106-98 victory over the New York Knicks on Friday night in their return from the All-Star break.
Domantas Sabonis added 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Pacers, who won their second straight after a six-game losing streak.
Victor Oladipo finished with eight points in the first game since his minutes restriction was lifted. But Oladipo, in just his eighth game after returning from a year absence with a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee, didn’t play in the fourth quarter and logged 25 minutes.
Bobby Portis scored 19 points and RJ Barrett had 17 for the Knicks, who have lost three in a row. Leading scorer Julius Randle shot 2 for 9 and finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
Coach Nate McMillan repeatedly said the Pacers would have to be patient with Oladipo’s reintroduction to the team, noting that most times when a player is out as long as he was, he comes back at the start of the season with a full training camp.
But Oladipo is working his way back past the midway point of the season, a tough adjustment for a team sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference and with work to do if it hopes to earn home-court advantage in the first round.
Indiana looked awful early, scoring just 15 points in the first quarter before breaking out for 36 in the second. Oladipo had just one basket before getting the Pacers’ final five points of the half, sending them to the locker room with a 51-44 lead.
The Pacers then outscored the Knicks 23-8 to start the third, extending a seven-point lead to a 74-52 advantage when Oladipo made a free throw with 3:45 remaining in the period. Warren outscored New York by himself during that stretch, with nine points.
New York cut it to 91-85 after a 7-0 burst, but Warren had a basket and then a three-point play to stop the comeback and give the Pacers a 96-85 lead with 5:12 to go.
The Knicks were able to get within four in the final minute but the Pacers made enough free throws to hold on.
Pacers: Oladipo still won’t play in both games when the Pacers play on consecutive nights. They have three back-to-backs left. … Indiana has won four straight at Madison Square Garden.
Knicks: Point guard Elfrid Payton sat out with right ankle soreness. Frank Ntilikina started and scored 14 points. … The Knicks begin three-game trip after this game.
Pacers: Visit Toronto on Sunday.
Knicks: Visit Houston on Monday. The Knicks have lost the last eight meetings.