Paul George

First the Heat, now the Knicks.

The Indiana Pacers are proving they can beat up on everyone in the Eastern Conference these days.

Paul George scored seven of his 25 points during a decisive 13-0 fourth-quarter run, leading the Pacers past New York 81-76 on a night the Knicks were without their top scorer, Carmelo Anthony. Indiana has won 12 of 15 and swept the two other Eastern Conference division leaders this week.

”We want to compete for the one and two (seeds) and for sure want to compete for the No. 1 spot,” George said. ”We probably could be pushing one or two if we would have started off playing the way we’re playing right now.”

Clearly, the Knicks (23-12) weren’t the same without their All-Star forward, who was suspended for the game after Monday’s postgame confrontation with Boston’s Kevin Garnett. They finished with a season-low point total, shot just 34.8 percent from the field and 20 percent from 3-point range.

And the Pacers (22-14) took Anthony’s absence by pulling off a rare double - beating defending champion Miami and Atlantic Division-leading New York - in back-to-back games.

It’s about time. The Pacers came into this season with high expectations, but struggled early as they tried to adjust to life without their top scorer, Danny Granger, who still has not played because of a left knee injury…

George started the game by missing his first five shots, but wound up finishing 10 of 24 from the field. He also had 11 rebounds, six steals, five assists and one block on a night point guard George Hill played with bronchitis and All-Star center Roy Hibbert left twice with a bad back…

Ian Mahinmi finished with 13 points and six rebounds, and Lance Stephenson added nine points and seven rebounds.

– Reported by Michael Marot of the Associated Press