We all love an epic battle between an unstoppable force and an immovable object. The Knicks’ game last night against the Pacers was the opposite. Indiana, the third worst shooting team in the league, is far from an unstoppable force on offense. And us, New York, tied for second in allowing their opponents to shoot the highest percentage, is no one’s idea of an immovable object on D. They like to shoot only .442, but we like to give up .482. In backwards world it meant: could we force them to score more than they normally do, or would they make our defense look better than it is? Turns out we decided to go 50/50.
In the first quarter, our bad defense overwhelmed their mediocre offense, making them look like the high-octane Phoenix Suns and allowing them to shoot a blistering 63%. In the second quarter the Pacers tried to give it back to us, bringing back their offensive ineptitude long enough for a stretch where they only scored 8, while we went for 26, cutting the lead to two points. Realizing that they were now making our defense look good, we quickly backtracked, allowing the Pacers to go on a run and finish the half with 72 points.
During halftime the Pacers, not wanting to be out-worsed, clearly talked about ways to bring their own offense to a grinding halt ‘cuz they knew they couldn’t count on us stopping them. Well whatever they said worked like a charm, ‘cuz they proceeded to only notch 20 and 21 points in the last two quarters.
However, much to their chagrin, after we tied the game early in the fourth we realized that if we couldn’t count on our defense being awful, we’d have to lose this game a new way: taking our offense down a notch. Limiting our scoring to only 15 points in that final stanza, we managed to prove once and for all that we were the team that deserved to be on bottom.
No one out-sucks us, baby.
Additional Player Notes:
-Tracy McGrady came back. Well, rather he played. Or at least he was on the court. Averaging a pathetic .241 from three-point land (or in other words, if he takes four shots he still needs some luck to ensure he hits one), McGrady decided he wanted to out-do his low expectations and went 0-for-5 from downtown. After the game, when told that the goal is to get the ball to go through the hoop, TMac seemed genuinely shocked.
-Again Duhon started. Again Toney Douglas still got solid minutes (31) and was always in with either Duhon or fellow point guard Sergio Rodriguez. That would seem to favor the Grooming-Him-To-Play-Shooting-Guard theory, however, again Toney seemed to initiate the offense more than Spanish Chocolate. Although since it’s not like Toney’s just some outside shooter, maybe it makes sense. By allowing Toney to come in later, D’Antoni frees the rook from having to first set up his teammates. Thus when Tone comes in he can just drive and look for his own shot (and as a secondary option if help defense comes, THEN he can pass it to others). But I’m just guessing.
-Earl Barron had another big game with 15 and 9, plus a block. He stayed in the starting line-up, so TMac’s return forced Bill Walker to the bench.
-J.R. Giddens didn’t get off the bench. That’s now four games in a row where he’s alternated between getting in and not. It’s odd. Like Eddie House consistently hasn’t been playing, and Duhon went through a period where the same happened. But for it to change game-to-game is weird. I assume D’Antoni’s trying to send some message, but again, I’m just guessing.