|Photo by AP|
The last two days I've boasted about the Knicks now (seemingly) elite defense and in tonight's preview I pondered if the Knicks would have to play this game in a grind-it-out-fashion. Instead, both the Knicks and the Pacers offense clicked at different times in the game, and when it came down to crunch time, it was almost a matter of offensive execution (though you could argue that the defense mattered more).
And boy, was Mother Crunch Time was tough on the Knicks. After excellent 2nd and 3rd quarters where the Knicks clamped down on defense and crisply moved the ball and attacked the basket on offense, they had built themselves a 15-point lead going into the final 12 minutes. Unfortunately those 12 minutes were 12 minutes too long and the Pacers rattled off a furious rally to tie the game and eventually take the lead by as many as eight.
When it mattered most, the Knicks couldn't compose themselves during Indiana's determined run. Jump if you want to continue torturing yourself.
Mike Woodson, whose coaching performance was one of the worst performances of all the Knicks, began the 4th quarter sitting Baron Davis, Carmelo Anthony, and Tyson Chandler on the bench. He was forced to put them back in when the Pacers cut the lead to single digits and the rest proved to be not enough. The Knicks defense was slow while the Pacers hustled for offensive rebounds and hit open jumpshots; the offense was stagnant as Baron Davis freely launched off-target fade-away jumpers and the other Knicks felt unobligated to help.
Carmelo Anthony, who was fantastic all night, kept the Knicks in it with 12 points in the 4th quarter, including a mini 8-point run by himself. However, with the Knicks down by three and four on two separate occasions, his 3-pointers rimmed in and out, thus basically summarizing Carmelo's season. He was however the brightest of bright spots for the Knicks as he finished with 39 points on 17-31 shooting with 10 rebounds.
There were other bright spots for the Knicks. J.R. Smith, before choking down the stretch and evidently throwing Leandro Barbosa to the ground at the end of the game(I had turned it off by that point), had a nice all-around game, immediately giving the Knicks a spark off the bench. He finished with 11 points (3-11 shooting; it really tailed off at the end), 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Landry Fields had his best game in what feels like forever, contributing 15 points on 5-8 shooting (2-3 from downtown!), 4 rebounds, and 2 steals. He was oddly absent during the Knicks collapse, another coaching mistake by Woodson.
This collapse is unlike what we've seen from the Knicks in recent months, really. Early in the season they did it all of the time, but since Linsanity and on, they've been on the opposite side, showing resilience and fight whenever they got down. Not tonight. They continue to dry hump .500 and play the Magic in Orlando on Thursday night. In the meantime, we all can continue to hold this face until the Knicks get another victory.