Knicks crushed by Pacers in painful Game 7 as playoff hopes end

The conditions were ripe for a heroic performance from the Knicks. The stuff of legend.

Josh Hart and OG Anandboye both started despite their “questionable” status and received a huge ovation during the lineup introduction before the game.

The crowd went wild for Game 7, the first in nearly 30 years.

However, it was the Pacers who rose to the occasion, while the exhausted and sloppy Knicks lost 130-109 on Sunday afternoon.

Jalen Brunson reacts during Game 7 against the Knicks on Sunday. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton reacts after hitting a 3-point shot in Game 7 against the Knicks on Sunday. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Jalen Brunson’s incredible season ended in the locker room with a broken left hand after a disappointing 6-of-17 performance in 29 minutes. It’s unclear when Brunson broke his shooting hand, but he came off the bench in the third quarter.

He immediately went to the locker room and briefly returned to try to participate in the game, but then left the court for good.

The Knicks need one more win to advance to their first conference finals since 2000, but Brunson shot below 40 percent in Games 6 and 7 combined.

Knicks assistant Rick Brunson tells his son Jalen during the Game 7 loss: Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post
OG Anunoby will head to the Knicks’ bench in the first quarter Sunday. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Only Donte DiVincenzo (39 points) and Alec Burks (26 points) kept the Knicks from a blowout loss at home.

Meanwhile, the Pacers stepped up their offense, shooting 67 percent from the field. They got 26 points from Tyrese Haliburton. Haliburton was celebrating and speaking wildly throughout Garden Court. Haliburton shot 10-of-17, including 6-of-12 from beyond the arc. Pascal Siakam added 20 points.

The Pacers used their depth throughout the series, defeating the Knicks in the final two games.

Knicks center #55 Isaiah Hartenstein grabbed his ankle during the first quarter. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Anunoby, who had missed the past four games with a hamstring strain, made a great impression on Willis Reed after being inserted into the starting lineup as a surprise.

Anunoby, visibly tired and limping, missed two shots, including an off-balance trey.

However, 10 days after injuring his hamstring, he could barely move. There were problems with Anunoby’s defense, and he was sent off less than five minutes into the game and permanently moved to the bench.

In the process, Anunoby has perhaps shed some of the “soft” label that has stuck with him since his injury-plagued stint in Toronto. But if his active status was an attempt to intimidate the Pacers or mentally corner Rick Carlisle’s team, it didn’t work.

Jalen Brunson reacted to the Knicks’ loss to the Pacers. Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

The Pacers were strong from the start. Ignoring the raucous Garden crowd, they shot a whopping 76 percent in the first half (including two-thirds of 3-pointers) and led by as many as 22 points. .

According to ESPN, this was the highest shooting percentage in the first half for a team in the last 25 postseason games.

Hart played with an abdominal strain in Game 6 two days earlier, but was more mobile than expected. But he didn’t take a shot for 37 minutes, missing all four 3-pointers and left the court thanking “Josh Hart.” chanting.

But the Knicks, like Hart, had nothing left in Game 7.