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Isaiah Hartenstein’s historic rebounding effort ‘huge’ for Knicks in Game 5 win vs. Pacers

With a historic night on the glass, Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein rebounded from a pair of quiet games in Indiana.

Hartenstein hauled in 17 rebounds on Tuesday in the Knicks’ 121-91 win in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series with the Pacers, establishing a level of physicality he says he didn’t bring in their losses in Games 3 and 4 on the road.

That lofty rebounding total included 12 offensive boards, tying Hartenstein with Charles Oakley for the most in a single Knicks playoff game. Oakley achieved the feat in 1994.

“I just want to be more physical,” Hartenstein, 26, said after helping the Knicks go up 3-2 in the series. “I feel like the games in Indiana, I wasn’t playing like myself. I wasn’t being physical. I was letting them kind of play how I play, so just coming in, that was the biggest thing I wanted to do: Just be physical. Just play my game.”

Five of Hartenstein’s offensive rebounds came during the first quarter, leading to nine second-chance points that helped the Knicks overcome an early 16-9 deficit.

The Knicks finished with 26 second-chance points compared to the Pacers’ nine.

“I thought Isaiah was phenomenal,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “It was a great team effort, but Isaiah in particular, those extra possessions were huge for us.”

The 7-foot Hartenstein totaled 13 rebounds over Games 3 and 4. The Knicks lost the rebounding battle in both games.

The 17 rebounds on Tuesday marked Hartenstein’s most in a game this postseason. It was the second time in 11 playoff games that Hartenstein’s rebounding total reached double-figures.

“They killed us on the glass better than they probably have any game all series,” Pacers star Tyrese Haliburton said. “We just didn’t match that intensity level all night. … We’ve just got to do a better job of limiting second-chance opportunities. I think in the first half, they shot 15 more shots than us. How do you win a game when teams are doing that?”

The Knicks ended up taking 29 more shots than the Pacers over the course of the game, slowing down Indiana’s fast-paced offense.

“If we don’t get stops and rebounds, our game is not gonna look good. We’re not gonna be able to get the ball out,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “All of our playmakers are not going to have opportunities to get the ball and attack.”

A reserve to start the season, Hartenstein continues to find success as a starter in place of fellow center Mitchell Robinson, who recently underwent his second ankle surgery of the year. Robinson is expected to be re-evaluated in six-to-eight weeks.


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