Tonight’s early feature on ESPN is the Indiana Pacers at the New York Knicks. On paper, it’s clear that the Knicks should get blown out of the water by the Pacers, who held the NBA’s best record coming into tonight at 9-1. But the match-up still holds a number of intriguing storylines that we hoped would keep us entertained this evening.
Well, unless you’re a fan of sloppy, hurried offensive sets, contested long-range jumpers and, frankly, horrible shooting in general, the first half of the Knicks-Pacers tilt was pretty miserable. Both teams shot under 35% in the first quarter, with the Knicks leading 19-14 at the end of the first frame. Only a three-pointer that banked off the glass by Roy Hibbert at the buzzer kept the Pacers from getting held to just 11 points in the quarter.
The first quarter said more about the issues with both teams than it did about any real strides that the Knicks seem to be making. They started the game on an 11-0 run, but instead of doing anything with it, they were outscored 14-8 the rest of the way and only took a five-point lead into the second period.
Yes, the Pacers offense stagnates rather easily, but the Knicks’ offense seems to be in a perpetual state of stagnation. Carmelo Anthony isolations and contested Metta World Peace jumpers will only get you
so far nowhere.
The second quarter turned into a little bit of a free throw competition, which only bogged the game down further. And it isn’t like the game has been a clinic on defensive positioning, although the Knicks looked about as good on that end of the floor as they’ve shown all season long to this point. A flurry of scoring by both teams in the final two minutes of the half brought the score all the way up to 42-37 in the Knicks favor, but it felt like there was even less scoring than that.
For the Knicks on the half, Anthony scored 17 points on 7 of 14 shooting and pulled down 7 rebounds. As a team, the Knicks shot just 40.5%.
The Pacers had absolutely nobody stand out on the offensive end of the floor in what was a miserable showing. Paul George managed to reach 7 points on 3 of 8 shooting with 2 assists, and Luis Scola was close behind with 6 points on 2 of 3 shooting off the bench in ten minutes.