Tonight in Indiana, the Knicks (23-12) were defeated by the Indiana Pacers (22-14) by the score of 81-76. Box Score
Chris Copeland got the start for the suspended Carmelo Anthony and played a little over twenty minutes. Cope had his moments, scoring eight points to go with his six rebounds, but he wasn’t much of a factor in the second half.
J.R. Smith led the offense with 25 points, but on 10-of-29 shooting. Smith did chip in with six assists in his forty minutes of game action.
Tyson Chandler logged a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds to go along with his three blocked shots
Amar’e Stoudemire played 21 minutes, scoring nine points and grabbing eight boards, while also adding a blocked shot, but he was just 4-of-11 from the field and again struggled on the defensive end.
The Knicks shot just 35% from the field and went a dismal 4-of-20 from three-point range.
The stingy Pacers defense has now held opponents to under 84 points in five of their last six games.
Rik Smits was in attendance in a luxury box, while Haywoode Workman served as one of the referees. Haywoode Workman is still not an actual human being’s name, and Rik Smits is still the worst.
It’s worth noting that really at no point during Thursday’s loss to Indiana were the Knicks playing well. There wasn’t really a stretch where you thought, “Heyyy, NOW we’re cooking with grass,” it was something of a slog throughout. But when New York pulled ahead to end the third quarter, thanks largely to a few solid minutes from J.R. Smith, I was all set to write about how this was a gritty win, a game defensive effort against a tough Pacers team, and an impressive victory considering the absence of Carmelo. And then the fourth quarter happened.
New York went 1-for-11 out of the gate, allowed the Pacers to pull ahead, and the game was never really in doubt after that. Paul George was pretty much the difference for the Pacers, scoring 24 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, dishing out five assists, snagging six steals and haunting all our dreams. He was quite good.
J.R. Smith tried ably to carry the scoring load, hitting a few patented “What is THAA-YEAHHH!” jumpers, but mostly reminding everyone what happens when J.R. is asked to do a little too much, he generally does more, and not necessarily in the best way.
Amar’e Stoudemire played 21 minutes and looked, well, kind of how he’s looked. He showed a few flashes on offense, sort of, while looking mostly forlorn and adrift on defense. Look, it’s his fifth game back, we’re trying to stay patient, certainly not pinning the 2-3 record since he’s returned on him or anything, but still. It’s not been good. It’s mostly unsettling.
If you wanted to to — and, man, it sure seemed like a lot of folks wanted to — you could definitely start working yourself up into a pretty nice lather of worry over the Knicks’ recent play. Jason Kidd has struggled noticeably since Raymond Felton left him all alone in the Knicks’ backcourt, the defense has slipped since the early going (tonight’s gritty effort notwithstanding), the three-point shooting is no longer on pace to be the best in human history and the return of Amar’e has gone about as poorly as most folks’ worst fears.
But it is a useful reminder that Carmelo Anthony did not play in this game, that the Knicks generally look superior when he does, that Raymond Felton was not, in fact, lost for eternity and that the Shump is speeding towards a return as we speak, all of which could go a long way in improving things rather quickly.
Yeah, this evening’s festivities were unpleasant, like spending a whole day in a pair of tight underwear (?), but I don’t think it’s quite time to panic, though check back with me tomorrow night after Friday’s tilt at the Garden against the Bulls. Oh right, them. I hate them.