Post Game Recap
Final Score: Knicks: 76 Pacers: 81
Tonight the Knicks could have desperately used the suspended Carmelo Anthony as points were hard to come by tonight. In what looked like a game from the 90’s rivalry between the Knicks and Pacers, we were all put into a time machine to see an ugly, drag’em out slugfest between two offensively challenged teams. The Knicks were easily defended by the Pacers, who sport one of the best defenses in the NBA. The Knicks relied solely on J.R. Smith to carry the offensive load tonight. With the loss, the Knicks drop to 5-7 in their last 12 games and 23-12 on the season. They also drop below .500 without Anthony, dropping to 3-4.
J.R. Smith’s shooting percentage wasn’t pretty, but considering the circumstances he did well. Tonight the Pacers treated him like he was Anthony and they threw everything at him on the defensive end. The result did not look pretty, but Smith knew it was on him to carry the Knicks offense tonight and he did everything he could, going 10 of 29 from the field for 25 points. Smith helped out in other areas as well, grabbing three rebounds and handing out six assists. Smith only turned the ball over twice; impressive because of the high usage rate he had tonight playing 40 minutes and being the main ball handler on multiple offensive possessions.
The defense was on point for the Knicks tonight, as they made everything almost as difficult for the Pacers on offense as the Pacers did to the Knicks. On the night, the Knicks were able to hold the Pacers to 39.2 percent from the field on 31-79 shooting. The perimeter defense was even better for the Knicks, as the Pacers struggled to knock down three point shots, going five of 21 on the game, good for 23.8 percent.
The Knicks were able to stay in the game tonight because they put a concerted effort into the rebounding department tonight. With both teams struggling from the field, there were rebounds a-plenty tonight as the Knicks and Pacers combined for 99 in all. The Knicks held a slight edge, 51-48 because everyone pitched in. Tyson Chandler led the way with 15, but was not alone as Chris Copeland grabbed a season-high six rebounds and Amar’e Stoudemire had his strongest rebounding game of the season with eight. Stoudemire continues to lack the explosiveness to finish on offense, but is doing a good job on the boards and on defense, having another block tonight.
The Knicks offense was a mess tonight without Anthony. The Knicks continued to try the pick-and-roll game but without Anthony for the defense to focus on and starting point guard Raymond Felton it was not as successful as the Knicks had hoped; with it not working well the Knicks offense became stagnant. The Knicks offense has missed the rim attacking of Felton, as Kidd and Prigioni do not get to the basket with the aggressiveness that Felton did. The result is tougher looks from the perimeter, as the Knicks shot four of 20 from the three point line tonight (20 percent), not making their first one until the final minutes of the second quarter. It was not much better overall, as the Knicks managed to shoot only 34.8 percent from the field, going 31-89. The Pacers showed the Knicks tonight why they are ranked second in the NBA in giving up only 89.5 points per game.
Coming into the game, the Knicks defensive game plan revolved around stopping Paul George. George is having an All-Star caliber, breakout season for the Pacers in stepping up for the injured Danny Granger. He is the most talented player on the Pacers and the Knicks witnessed that first hand tonight. The Knicks were unable to contain George on offense and let him run rampant on defense tonight as he beat the Knicks on both ends of the floor. Playing a game high 44 minutes, George scored 24 points to go along with 11 rebounds (his seventh double-double of the season), five assists, six steals and one block.
When a player in the starting five goes down with an injury during a game, which is something the opposition can usually take advantage of; tonight it was a curse for the Knicks. Roy Hibbert was struggling tonight as he battled back spasms and the Knicks were taking advantage with him on the court. Once Pacers head coach Frank Vogel has enough of Hibbert, he inserted backup center Ian Mahinmi and he gave the Pacers a huge spark off the bench. The Knicks were unable to match the energy of Mahinmi, who ended up giving the Pacers 13 points and six rebounds off the bench in only 20 minutes, outplaying any of the Knicks bench players.
Jason Kidd struggled for the Knicks tonight, something that they cannot afford with Felton sidelined. Kidd is supposed to be the one player who can keep the Knicks controlled and heads on straight, but tonight he really struggled to get them going. Kidd turned the ball over five times, resulting in multiple transition dunks for George. Like the rest of the Knicks, Kidd was unable to find his shot tonight, going three of 10 from the field and two of nine from the three-point line. On the night, the Knicks managed only 14 assists and turned the ball over 12 times.
Next up for the Knicks is round three with the Chicago Bulls, as they will welcome Carmelo Anthony back with open arms from his one game suspension.
Kenneth Teape @teapester725 – Knickswag Contributor
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