INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle challenged his team to play more physically and more tenaciously Friday night.

His desperate team responded with one of its most inspired performances all season.

Pascal Siakam finished with 25 points and seven rebounds, Myles Turner added 17 points and eight rebounds, and the Pacers turned the tables on the New York Knicks with a 116-103 victory to even the Eastern Conference semifinals at 3-3.

The decisive Game 7 will be played Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

“I thought Game 5 was our least aggressive game in the playoffs,” Carlisle said. “We played hard tonight, which was a must. They came out really hard tonight, which was evident, but we moved the ball better, we got more rebounds and that's obviously been a big part in this series.”

Indiana had two days to figure out how to contend with the Knicks' hustle plays and their strength on the glass, two things that led to Tuesday's 30-point blowout in Game 5 and put the Pacers on the brink of elimination.

This time, the Pacers held a 47-35 rebounding edge and even had a slight 14-13 advantage on the offensive end. And they had balanced scoring, too, which spread out the Knicks defense.

Tyrese Haliburton and Andrew Nembhard each scored 15 points, with Nembhard pulling down six rebounds and dishing out six assists. Haliburton had nine assists as Indiana kept its perfect postseason home record intact at 6-0, in front of a raucous sellout crowd that helped re-energize the Pacers during key moments.

“We knew they were going to play hard coming off the last game, and that's what it's about," Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We're just going to have to play a lot better.”

Even Jalen Brunson, the All-Star who has been the league's top postseason scorer. Yes, he finished with 31 points and five assists while shooting 11 of 26 from the field, but that came after he missed his final 11 shots in the first half.

Deuce McBride added 20 points and Donte DiVincenzo had 17, but the short-handed Knicks may have suffered yet another blow when Josh Hart left in the fourth quarter with what the Knicks called abdominal soreness.

“I expect him to play,” Brunson said when asked about Hart. “It's Game 7.”

The good news for the Knicks is they don't have to return to Indiana, where they've lost nine straight playoff games. Instead, they're heading back to the Garden against a group of many players making their first playoff appearances or playing key roles for the first time in the postseason.

And now, they'll be playing on national television on the league's biggest stage.

“It's exciting,” Haliburton said. “We've got nothing to lose. I think we realize it's time to empty the clip. We are ready to go from start to finish.”

The Pacers sure looked like it Friday as they repeatedly won the battles to loose balls and turned them into quick points, taking a 42-41 lead on Haliburton's second 3-pointer of the game. The ensuing 16-7 run helped the Pacers take a 61-51 halftime lead and they never trailed again.

Brunson rebounded in the second half, getting the Knicks within 61-56 after making two baskets and a free throw, but after a timeout Nembhard and Haliburton answered with consecutive 3s and the Pacers rebuilt an 11-point margin.

The Knicks never really recovered, losing for the third time in four games and leaving them one win away from reaching their first conference final since 2000. Indiana hasn't played in the conference finals since 2014.

And after playing three games to single-digit margins, the last three to double-digit margins and the home team winning all six, they'll square off again Sunday - in a win-or-go-home scenario.

"It's the ultimate game and it's a great opportunity,” Carlisle said. “Other than Pascal and maybe James Johnson, I'm not sure if any of our guys have been in a Game 7. But this team has been through a lot of new experiences in the last 3 1/2 weeks and this will be another new experience. So we'll do everything possible to get them ready.”

New York again played without four key players because of injuries - forwards OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic and Julius Randle, and backup center Mitchell Robinson. Only Anunoby, who injured his left hamstring in the second half of Game 2 and hasn't played since, appears to have a chance to return Sunday.

Thibodeau said Anunoby continues to do “light work” as he tries to recover. He said Anunoby was considered day to day.



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