The Knicks are notoriously slow starters in matinee games, but things were brighter yesterday because the opponent was the Pacers.
Following Friday night’s crushing loss to the Grizzlies, the Knicks (7-1) needed a perfect lackey to get right, and the Pacers (4-7) were willing accomplices, in an 88-76 win.
It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but the Knicks still tied the 1993-94 squad for the franchise’s best start ever.
“Guys are buying in,” said head coach Mike Woodson. “They understand if they [grind] and do it at a high level, you put yourself in a position to win games. … I’ve been very pleased with the way we’ve come out defensively.”
The Knicks needed all the defense they could muster, considering the offense was non-existent. Other than Carmelo Anthony’s game-high 26 points, there weren’t many other offensive highlights. But this Knicks team is built on defense, and they made the Pacers miserable all afternoon.
“Last year we let this type of game slip away,” Tyson Chandler said. “It’s definitely the maturity of the team and obviously the maturity of the players. We got a lot of vets around here that understand that these games add up. These are the games at the end of the year when you are in that dog fight and jockeying for position, [and] these are the games that put you over or under.”
The Pacers were about as bad as any Knicks opponent this year, committing 19 turnovers, shooting 39 percent and only having two players in double digits scoring.
“Today was one of them days where we had to do it on the defensive end, [because] offensively we were still trying to find it,” said Anthony. “But on the defensive end, for us to be in sync the way we are right now, especially this early in the season, that’s a good thing.”