The Knicks inexplicably failed to show up in Indiana following almost a week of inactivity, as they got hammered by the Pacers, 125-91.
The Pacers (33-21) closed the gap on the Knicks (32-19) in the Eastern Conference playoff race to only a half-game, as they led wire-to-wire. It was the fifth time the Knicks were subject to a wire-to-wire defeat as no one wearing blue and orange could get anything going offensively.
The Knicks were down by as much as 32 points in the first half, which was the largest deficit of season. Head coach Mike Woodson certainly figured his aging team would find their mojo following a layoff, but instead of getting a team looking like its old self, the Knicks instead just looked old.
Tyson Chandler was the most efficient player for the Knicks, tallying 19 points on 4-of-9 shooting, but most of his production came from the free-throw line (11-of-11). Chandler did add 11 rebounds and a block as he was the only player who showed any type of passion. Fellow All-Star, Carmelo Anthony, endured yet another poor offensive exhibition, as he shot 7-of-21 (1-of-6 from 3-point range) en route to 15 points. Anthony has now sandwiched a great All-Star Game performance with porous regular-season shooting nights.
About the only bright spot for the Knicks, not named Chandler, was the sight of Steve Novak knocking down shots. The 3-point sharpshooter was in a bit of a slump during the stretch run leading up to the break – not to mention a subpar shooting effort in the 3-point Shootout – but he bounced back with 11 points in 22 minutes, including 3-of-7 on 3-pointers against the Pacers.
The Pacers’ lone All-Star, Paul George, eviscerated the Knicks as he notched 27 points on 11-of-19 shooting, including four 3-pointers. George, who had 20 of those points in the first half, had a well-rounded game that included nine rebounds, three assists, a steal and two blocks.
What we saw ...
1. Three is a magic number
The Knicks came into the game one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the league, but their collective shot stayed on the mini-vacation they just came back from. The Knicks shot 5-of-28 on 3-pointers, including a 1-of-15 start. Conversely, the Pacers shot a torrid 11-of-24 from behind the arc, including a 7-of-13 effort in the first half.
2. Early shower
It’s hard to blame J.R. Smith for wanting to miss the rest of this game, as he was tossed with just over three minutes remaining. It wasn’t like Smith was helping his team anyway, as he only had five points on 1-of-7 shooting and three turnovers. Smith was so frustrated that he allowed Pacers swingman Lance Stephenson to get under his skin throughout the game, including a technical at the half when it appeared he head-butted the Brooklyn native as the two engaged in some trash talk. Stephenson got the last laugh as he tallied 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
3. Defense downright offensive
The Knicks had the clamps on the Pacers in the previous two meetings, allowing just 76 and 81 total points. But Wednesday night was a different story, as the Pacers notched 74 points in the first half alone. It was a disheartening effort by the Knicks, considering the Pacers came into the game averaging 92.8 points per game, which is good for 28th in the league.
Follow Knicks beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.