Andrew Nembhard, Myles Turner
(NBAE/Getty Images)

Nembhard, Turner Etch Names in Pacers-Knicks Postseason Lore

Whenever the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks meet in the playoffs, each game in the series has the potential to produce a moment that furthers the rivalry's lore.

Those core memories can be summed up in just a few words for Indiana fans, such as  “eight points in nine seconds,” “the choke sign,” or “the Hibbert block.”

On Friday night in Indianapolis, two more highlights were added to the Pacers-Knicks postseason archives: the Myles Turner chase-down block and the Andrew Nembhard 31-footer.

Trailing 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Pacers found themselves in a critical situation in the final minutes of Game 3.

After exchanging figurative and literal blows the entire game, the Pacers and Knicks were tied at 102 with 2:26 remaining after Knicks marathon man Josh Hart split free throws for the visitors.

On the ensuing possession, Pacers All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton saw one of his passes intercepted by Hart, who then barreled down the floor toward the opposite basket for a layup.

As Haliburton chased down the streaking Knick in an attempt to slow him down, the Pacers’ franchise all-time block leader, Turner, ascended from behind Hart and pinned the shot attempt against the backboard, immediately leading to a transition bucket on the other end from Nembhard.

In a way, Turner’s clutch play was an homage to a former Pacer who was wearing his jersey on the sidelines, as his block came right in front of Roy Hibbert, who famously swatted Carmelo Anthony to help the Pacers advance to the  Eastern Conference Finals in 2013. Hibbert revved the crowd up on Friday before sitting courtside.

While Turner’s block won’t likely lead many highlight reels, his teammates and coaches knew just how vital that vicious denial was to the game – and possibly the entire series.

“I think there are certain plays that happen over the course of a series, and the course of a game, that can really change things,” Haliburton said of the Turner block. “…I think we’re going to remember that play, because I feel like that changed the game. It was a game-changing moment. I think it just speaks to how hard he played and the tone he set today.”

The Knicks didn’t retake the lead after Nembhard’s layup, but the visitors tied the game once again with 42 seconds on the clock after sharpshooter Jalen Brunson buried an improbable step-back 3-pointer.

On the ensuing possession, however, Nembhard made an even more hellacious shot.

In a broken play, Haliburton dumped the ball to Nembhard on the left side of the 3-point arc with around six seconds on the shot clock. Nembhard then briefly fumbled the ball, stepped back and drained a trey over Brunson from 31 feet — with 18 seconds left — to put the Blue & Gold ahead for good, sending the gold-out crowd into a frenzy. It proved to be the game-winning shot in a 111-106 victory.

The bucket was just the second for Nembhard on the night, with the former resulting from the Turner block. While finishing 2-for-8 from the field, Nembhard wasn’t afraid to step up when his team needed it most, like when he hit the buzzer-beating 3-pointer against the Los Angeles Lakers during his rookie season.

“He’s one of our toughest guys, mentally and physically,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said of Nembhard. “He’s really gained a love for these types of moments and playing in this kind of stage, this kind of level of competition…The clock was down. Sometimes in those situations, it frees you up even more. He just laced it.”

Reflecting on the game's final two minutes, Nembhard said most of it was a blur, and that he “was just in the moment.”

“Basketball’s a game of many mistakes,” Nembhard said. “It’s about being neutral, not getting high or low based off good or bad plays. Just trying to move on and understand the next play’s the most important.”

Like Carlisle, Nembhard’s teammates weren’t surprised he came up clutch when the team needed him to.

“Andrew does so many things for us as a team, just fights every possession, picking up full court. He’s so valuable for us,” Pacers forward Pascal Siakam said. “Obviously, he wasn’t making shots or anything like that. But we have full trust in him, the work that he puts in. He’s a confident kid...Obviously it’s a tough shot, but if somebody’s going to make that, it’s going to be him. I just love everything about him and his focus.”

So far, each game in the Pacers-Knicks series has come down to the wire.

Indiana hasn’t lost a home game since March 18, compiling a 4-0 record in the playoffs. Buy your tickets today to help keep the home-court advantage going at

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