Pacers 106, Knicks 93: Rumors of the Pacers’ Demise…

Yeah, a lotta that going on tonight.

…are greatly exaggerated.

Danny Granger was ill and missed tonight’s game; supposedly he was receiving IV’s all day.  The Knicks must have been angry there weren’t any bags left for them.  They didn’t show up tonight and allowed a struggling Indiana club to get a road win as easy as can be had.  Your final score: IND 106, NY 93.  Here’s the box.

I’m always trying to rationalize and explain these games, even when most times things can’t be explained or are just beyond me.  Tonight I’ve got nothing.  A comprehensive loss to Dallas, a return home after two days off, an opponent with a six-game losing streak and missing its best player, knowing they need to hold serve for their road game in Indy on Tuesday…how can you explain this?

One of the keys I focused on in the preview, as ever with this team, was defensive communication.  Indiana’s 57% shooting is a pretty strong indicator of poor communication. You could argue they just got hot based on the peripheral numbers – the Knicks won the free throw and rebounding battles and committed the same number of turnovers –but the naked eye sees all the open shots and penetration the Knicks allowed tonight.

To try to take away those open looks we saw much more of that 2-1-2 zone the Knicks have been trotting out, where Jeffries is the point man and has to flow up and down the lane as the ball moves.  To me, the zone fails because Jeffries doesn’t seem to be comfortable knowing when to step up and guard at the top of the paint, and when sit back and protect the rim.  We saw too many open looks at the free throw line, and Jared was out of position far more often than normal.  Not saying the zone can’t work for this team in stretches, but once again the communication and chemistry needs time to improve.

Carmelo Anthony kept the Knicks afloat with a huge first half, going 8-14 with 20 points.  He was unstoppable in isolation, but in the second half the Knicks went to the isolation well far after it had run dry.  Melo was 1-8 in the second half with approximately 17 offensive fouls.

The other big story looking forward was the return of Chauncey Billups, and like everything else tonight, it disappointed and had no energy.  Billups shot poorly (4-14) and looked like he wasn’t used to his teammates – of everything that happened tonight, Billups is the one I’m least worried about.  The shooting and his chemistry with teammates will come as he gets reacquainted.

A few other notables:

  • The balance of minutes between Shawne Williams and Jeffries is going to continue to be a big decision for Mike D’Antoni going forward.  Williams shot well and earned his 30 minutes, while Jeffries looked more lost and missed more layups than usual.
  • I was heartened to see Bill Walker come in and make a couple of threes, if only because I think he’s straight-up better than Roger Mason.  Mason tonight: 0-3, 0-2 3PT.
  • The second Billups comes back, Toney Douglas goes from Point Guard of the Future to Backup Point Guard of Someone Else’s Future.
  • After teasing a halftime interview with Ne-yo (pronounced “ne-YO” by Kenny Albert), Clyde conducts haberdasher 101, narrating a montage of fans wearing interesting hats.   Then Kenny, just to remind us how out of it and how incapable of impromptu conversation he is, ties the whole thing up with, “Of course, many fans sporting traditional baseball caps around the arena.”  Good to have you here, Kenny.
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