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Knicks Win Third Straight With Win Over Indiana

NEW YORK -- For the first time since losing Patrick Ewing, the New York Knicks are using a team effort to string together some wins.

John Starks scored 17 points to lead a balanced attack as the Knicks beat Indiana 97-89 Wednesday night, snapping the Pacers' five-game winning streak.

New York has now won three straight after alternating wins and losses over the previous 15 games, a stretch that began even before Ewing's Dec. 20 wrist injury.

"We're just glad to have a streak going," forward Charles Oakley said. "It's going to take a lot of energy every night and we're going to have a formula of five or six guys every night and hope we can execute the offense."

Reggie Miller scored 21 points and Mark Jackson added 17 for Indiana, which also had a four-game road winning streak broken. But the Knicks defense held Miller scoreless in the fourth quarter.

"It's good to shut the whole team down," Oakley said. "They had some other guys who could score, Mark had a big game for them. I think we shut Smits down pretty well and kept the other guys off the boards and it was key for us."

Rik Smits, who averages over 17 points a game, was held to only eight points. Chris Dudley and Buck Williams combined to stop the 7-foot-4 center.

"He's good offensively, and so big," Dudley said. "You have to try and not let him catch the ball too deep in the paint."

Pacers coach Larry Bird thought Smits' poor play left the Pacers without an advantage in the middle.

"They didn't have Patrick and we didn't have Smits," Bird said. "They played good defense. They forced him out. They pushed on him and he really wasn't himself tonight."

Larry Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Chris Mills also had 14 points for New York. Oakley had 12 and Allan Houston and Williams chipped in with 10 points each for the Knicks, who have won 13 of their last 14 home games against the Pacers.

The Knicks put away the game early in the fourth quarter with a 10-3 run to take an 88-73 lead with 7:57 remaining.

Mills started the run with two free throws. Williams followed with a layup to give New York an 82-73 lead at the 10:10 mark. Williams scored another inside basket between two jump shots by Starks to close the run.

"I think it's as hard as we've played, combined with shooting well," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "I think the main thing is that we come right and ready every night to give ourselves a chance to win by playing hard and playing unselfishly."

The Knicks, who are the NBA's best defensive rebounding team, had a 45-29 rebound advantage for the game.

"It's as bad a game as we've had on the boards all year," Pacers guard Chris Mullin said. "You're not going to win many games like that."

Oakley, who has struggled with his shooting this season, scored eight of New York's 23 third-quarter points -- making four of his five shots -- as the Knicks had a 78-70 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Knicks led 55-52 at halftime aftr a strong shooting performance by both clubs. Miller had 13 points in the half - 11 in the first quarter.

NOTES: Jackson banked in a shot from beyond half-court to close out the first half. ... Dudley grabbed five rebounds in the first quarter. He had 10 rebounds in the first quarter of the Knicks' win over Boston on Monday. ... Indiana guard Fred Hoiberg moderately sprained his right ankle in the second quarter and did not return. ... The Knicks last loss vs. the Pacers at home was April 4, 1995.

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