Pacers’ Andrew Nembhard ‘shocked’ by game-winning 3-point dagger


INDIANAPOLIS – Andrew Nembhard was invisible.

Then he stole the show – and the game.

For most of the night, the Pacers guard couldn’t buy a basket.

Until he hit the biggest of the evening, a long and final 3-point shot that broke the tie in the final seconds and the collective back of the Knicks.

Indiana earned a must-win 111-106 victory in Game 3 against the Knicks in front of a sold-out crowd of 17,274 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

And they did it thanks to Nembhard’s 30-footer with just 17.8 seconds left.

Andrew Nembhard nails a 3-pointer over Jalen Brunson as the shot clock sounds at the buzzer during the fourth quarter. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“When I got the ball, I didn’t really realize what time it was. (Tyrese Haliburton) said something, I looked up and there was about two seconds left on the clock, so I knew I had to take something back. So I created some space and set it up,” Nembhard said, his mind blank as he was mobbed by his teammates.

“I was just in the moment. I was a little shocked. I was just happy that everything went well and focused on the next thing.

It was an unexpected dagger.

Nembhard was scoreless early in the fourth quarter and 1 for 7 before the pivotal moment.

Haliburton found himself facing center Isaiah Hartenstein and was about to make a move when he realized a double team was coming at the top of the key.

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He hesitated and threw a so-called grenade at Nembhard.

But he destroyed the Knicks with it.

Andrew Nembhard #2 of the Indiana Pacers reacts after making a three-point shot over Jalen Brunson Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“I saw myself one-on-one with Hartenstein, so I just thought about my shot. But I heard (Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau) yelling to double,” Haliburton said.

“I probably held the ball a little too long. I should have been more aggressive in attacking the blitz, but I put you in a bad situation. He just made an incredible shot. Big, big shot. (He) really stepped up when we needed him the most and that was really good to see.

After the Pacers blew a dozen-point lead and found themselves down 106 in a game they couldn’t afford to lose, this was a huge game.

But Nembhard showed the mental fortitude that Indiana lacked — and that coach Rick Carlisle was advocating for.

“He’s one of our toughest guys mentally and physically,” Carlisle said. “And he really gained a love for those kinds of moments.” And playing on that kind of stage, that kind of level of competition.

“Time was up, and sometimes in these situations it frees you even more. And he just laced it up.

After Nembhard’s 3, the Pacers forced Jalen Brunson to miss on the other end and held on for the win.

Donte DiVincenzo hits a three-pointer over Andrew Nembhard during the third quarter. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“Yeah, I just dug in. Obviously, yeah, he missed a few shots, but he was ready when his time came,” Haliburton said of Nembhard. “I’m just excited for him because after the Bucks game – Game 3 – he was like, ‘My main moment in the playoffs is going to be an offensive rebound.’ So I’m happy that this is probably his biggest moment now.

“So I’m excited for him.”

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