Last night the Knicks strange on-and-off-and-on-again road trip took them to a sparsely-populated Canseco Field House in Indianapolis for the second game in two nights. Both the Pacers and the Knicks came into the contest, and the final stretch of the regular season, within hailing distance of 30 wins.
The Knicks should want to reach that plateau. The Pacers should not. Because the Knicks do not have possession of their draft pick in the upcoming draft. The Pacers do. The Knicks "core" players are looking to prove themselves as the team goes into an uncertain offseason. The Pacers "core" will likely remain intact for at least another year.
What was good for the
The Pacers, winners of 7 of their last 9 heading into the game, came out like gangbusters. Which, I guess, would mean the Knicks came out like gangsters. Insofar as they were being busted. The Pacers stormed out to a 26-12 lead thanks to Danny Granger's sharpshooting and Roy Hibbert's interior presence. They would stretch that lead to as many 20 points before the half. The only positive that the Knicks had early was the fact that it didn't look like Mike Dunleavy was going to set a new career high. Granger or Hibbert, though, looked to have a shot.
Coming off Tuesday night's exciting win over the Celtics, that took place at the Garden and was followed up by a late flight, Knicks' early lack of focus early on was understandable. Or, at least, it was easily rationalized.
But was the Pacers diving-into-the-stands intensity? This season is a lost one for them, yet they are playing their best ball right now. Each day they cede another ping pong ball to the Utah Jazz.
Other Thoughts, Observations and Things Left Unsaid:
-Despite their sluggish start, the Knicks could have won this game late. It was all tied up well into the fourth, but the Knicks couldn't close the deal.
-Part of the reason that they couldn't close the deal is that Bill Walker and Toney Douglas combined for more fourth quarter shots than David Lee and Danilo Gallinari. I don't know whether to credit Walker for being so energetic given the team's grueling travel schedule or to lambast him for not knowing his role. And, as far as Douglas, he showed that he hasn't sacrificed his big shot ambitions(which served him well in college and at every other stage of his hoops life) in order to more effectively get a team of professionals through a key possession.