INDIANAPOLIS -- Another unexpected confluence of Patrick Ewing, an injury and a Game 2 in Indiana left the Pacers holding a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
Ewing strained a foot tendon in the first quarter and did not return Thursday night, marking the third straight season an injury has kept him out of part of a Pacers-Knicks series.
New York did OK without him until the end when Dale Davis rebounded his own missed free throw and fed Jalen Rose for a dunk with 2.4 seconds left, wrapping up Indiana's 88-84 victory.
''When Patrick went out, my first thought was 'Here we go again,''' Rose said. ''When he went out it gave them a dose of enthusiasm, and they played well without him.''
Not well enough, though, and never was Ewing missed as much as he was on the final play.
Davis had a chance to lock up the victory but missed two free throws with 5.8 seconds left. Charging in from the foul line, he only had to get past point guard Charlie Ward for the rebound. Davis grabbed it and found Rose wide open for an emphatic slam that sealed the game.
''Those were about the two biggest misses I think I ever have had,'' Davis said. ''I saw I had an opportunity -- they had two little guys down there. I had a chance to grab the long rebound, I took a shot at it and got it.''
Rose led the Pacers with 24 points, Reggie Miller had 19 for the second straight game and Rik Smits scored 10 of his 12 in the fourth quarter -- long after Ewing was gone. Dale Davis grabbed 16 rebounds for the Pacers, who trailed for much of the game but scored the final six points to win it.
''I really felt we were lucky tonight,'' Pacers coach Larry Bird said. ''We're very fortunate. I really felt they outplayed us. We just got lucky at the end. The ball went our way.''
Ewing injured his foot with just under six minutes remaining in the first quarter after going against Davis in the low post. He sat on the bench with his foot wrapped in ice for a few minutes before walking to the locker room with two team doctors.
The news from the locker room came quickly and was not good. Ewing had what the team called a sprained peroneal tendon in his right foot and would not return. Ewing will undergo an MRI exam Friday.
Ewing played his final game of the 1999 season in Indianapolis, suffering a partial tear of his left Achilles' tendon in Game 2 of the conference finals. The Knicks went on to win that series 4-2.
A year earlier, Ewing made a surprise return from a broken wrist in Game 2 of the second round in Indianapolis, but New York lost the series 4-1.
''Last year we somewhat let our guard down when he went out for the series, and (Latrell) Sprewell and (Allan) Houston killed us,'' Miller said. ''So far we've done a good job of keeping those two in check, but we're going to their house, they're going to get the calls and that makes it all that tougher.''
Larry Johnson (25 points, seven rebounds) and Kurt Thomas (10 points, eight rebounds) had strong games in Ewing's absence, but New York couldn't make the plays it needed down the stretch.
Marcus Camby drew a flagrant foul with 7:05 left for shoving Miller in the back, but Miller -- a 92 percent foul shooter -- missed one of two. Camby stole the ball on the ensuing possession to keep New York ahead 73-71.
Thomas helped keep New York ahead despite playing with five fouls, scoring on consecutive possessions and grabbing several big rebounds on both ends.
Indiana tied it, though, with 3:01 left when Smits picked up a loose ball, dunked and was fouled for a three-point play that made it 80-80.
Houston hit a jumper, Miller made a layup and Thomas and Rose exchanged jumpers to make it 84-84 with 55 seconds left.
Houston missed a bank shot and Miller was fouled with 28 seconds left, making both for an 86-84 lead. The Knicks then isolated Sprewell and managed to get him matched one-on-one against the 6-foot Travis Best, but Sprewell's turnaround was long.
''We got what we wanted. The play worked perfectly -- everything but the shot,'' Sprewell said.
After Rose's dunk clinched it, Sprewell slammed the ball off the court in frustration to run out the clock.
Now, the Knicks have a 2-0 deficit to deal with and don't know if Ewing will be able to return at full strength -- or if he'll return at all.
Ewing's latest injury was not related to a problem he had in Game 1 on Tuesday night, Knicks spokeswoman Lori Hamamoto said. Ewing had plantar fasciatis, an inflammation of tissue in the sole of the foot.
''It's ironic because it's Game 2 I got hurt in last year,'' Ewing said. ''Hopefully it won't be the case I'll have to sit out the whole series.''
Needing someone to fill the void, the Knicks got it from Johnson in the second quarter. Often guarded by Austin Croshere, Johnson repeatedly got the better of the matchup and scored eight points in the period. Chris Childs added seven points to help New York to a 43-42 halftime lead.
Miller scored eight points in the third quarter to keep it close, but New York ended the quarter with an 8-2 run for a 66-61 lead entering the fourth.
One of the big differences from Game 1 was the lack of early production from Smits. After scoring 10 points in the first 3 1/2 minutes Tuesday night, he missed his first four field goal attempts and two foul shots in the first 4:11.
Ewing left for good with 5:29 remaining, and the score was tied 22-22 after one.
Notes: A contingent of New York fans, standing out with orange Knicks caps on their heads and orange towels draped on their shoulders, secured tickets in the second and third row across from the Pacers' bench. Many of them were on their feet through out the game, annoying the fans sitting behind them. ''I know scalping is legal in Indiana, but that's a crying shame that those season-ticket holders sold their tickets,'' said Miller, who taunted those fans after the game. ''That would never happen in the Garden. It should never happen here.'' ... Rose played 48 minutes, the first time a Pacer has ever played an entire playoff game without a rest. ... Croshere, the unlikely hero of Game 1 with 22 points, finished 0-for-8 from the field. Ward was 0-for-5 for New York.
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