Immanuel Quickley came off the bench for starter Elfrid Payton and was a plus-5 in 12 minutes before suffering the hip pointer in a collision with Myles Turner.
Quickley didn’t play in the second half and Thibodeau used no point guard for a stretch of the third quarter when the game got away from his club. Thibodeau finally turned to Frank Ntilikina to start the fourth and he was ineffective.
Foul trouble to the Knicks’ big men hurt the interior defense, with Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel picking up three first-half fouls each. Julius Randle (17 points, nine assists, eight rebounds) also picked up his fourth midway in the third.
It was a solid Knicks debut for Alec Burks, who scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half while RJ Barret lead the team with 26 points.
Rookie lottery pick Obi Toppin showed flashes but got too 3-point happy in his debut. He shot 3 of 12 — 3 of 7 from 3.
Indiana had a strong second half and pulled away early in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Myles Turner was a huge reason for the turnaround in the second half, finishing the night with 10 points and tying his career-high with eight blocks. He was also a team-best +20 on the night and was a difference-maker in the second half.
Domas was a problem all night for the Knicks, drawing fouls early and feasting under the rim. He racked up 32 points and 13 rebounds. His ability to win on the boards and finish through contact gave the Knicks fits and ended up with a career-best in points for Sabonis.
Brogdon and Victor Oladipo combined for 43 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds while also wreaking havoc on the defensive end. Active hands led to steals and transition buckets in the first half, which kept Indiana in the game despite the Knicks hitting tough shots.
Indiana did not get off to the start they may have wanted but the stars got hot and carried them to a big second half. Oladipo, Turner, Brogdon, and Turner picked up the slack as T.J. Warren struggled in his first action of the season.
Indiana travels to Chicago on Saturday, Dec. 26 for a visit with the Bulls. They have to get off to a better start and get out to an early lead if they want to be taken seriously this season.