With only a week to go in the regular season and a playoff spot on the line, the New York Knicks found relief tonight in playing the Indiana Pacers.
"After beating Detroit and San Antonio in overtime last week, it was nice to win a game by a comfortable margin," said Bernard King, who made 13 of 20 shots and scored 29 points as the Knicks beat the Pacers, 121-92.
The triumph brought the Knicks a fifth-place tie with Atlanta in the Eastern Conference playoff race, one-half game ahead of Washington. Two of the three teams will gain a postseason berth in this final week of the regular season, which ends Sunday.
Because of the tie breaker rules, the Knicks are assured of making the playoffs if they win their last three games.
"I feel positive about what we've been doing," said center Bill Cartwright, who made all eight of his shots and had 19 points. "This is a good position to be in and I feel we'll win all our remaining games."
Indiana's seventh straight loss dropped the conference's last-place Pacers (19-60) two games behind Cleveland with three to play for each team. If the Cavaliers finish ahead of Indiana, the Pacers will flip a coin with Houston for the right to choose first in the June 28 college draft. Virginia's Ralph Sampson is the likely first selection in the draft.
"We're not trying to catch anyone now," Indiana Coach Jack McKinney said. "We're just trying to win a few and salvage the season."
"You can't accuse them of playing out the string," Knicks Coach Hubie Brown said of the Pacers. "They lost in overtime to Philadelphia on Friday and led most of the game against Cleveland Sunday. It's been a frustrating season for them and tonight they just had a bad game."