Game #9 Recap: The One Where The Pacers Forget There Are Two Halves to an NBA Game
New York Knicks 110, Indiana Pacers 103
Helluva first half, guys.
But you do realize they play two of those per game at this level, right? That’s actually why they call them halves, it turns out. I mean, I’m not a mathematician, but that’s what Wikipedia says anyway.
Wow. That was just a stunning display of great offense followed by “Wait? Are you seriously telling me this is an NBA team?” offense. 8 FGs in 24 minutes? 8!?!? Seriously? How does that even happen?
24% shooting for 24 straight minutes? Oh. That makes sense then.
I’m trying to not overreact to how bad this second half was, but I’m pretty sure I could gather up 10 former D-1 college baseketball players who have gone on to be accountants or HVAC installers or whatever after realizing they had no chance at playing professional basketball and get them to suit up — pro bono — and watch them make 9 shots in a half against the Knicks. I’m not even kidding. I think they could.
Unfortunately, that experiment probably isn’t possible.
So to illustrate just how bad the fourth quarter was, let’s just review the final five minutes (or, 5:09, to be exact) to recap just how ineffective the offense was during that time. And, as we review, let’s also remember that this final stretch was actually probably no worse than the entire second half — it just seems that way since it was at the end and represents the most dramatic, clutch-time failure. In fact, 25% of the team’s second-half field goals came in this final five minutes. Yes, that’s only 2 made shots out of the 8 total shots they made in the second half (SERIOUSLY, 8), but still.
Final Five Minutes
97 – 90
TJ dribbles on the right perimeter. TJ Dribbles on the right perimeter. With 7 secs on the shot clock, Danny gets the ball on the top of the key. He throws an abysmal bounce, entry pass to Roy at the thigh post. Turnover. Terrible play.
(Al Harrington three.)
97 – 93
Danny dribbles at the top of the key. Danny dribbles at the top of the key. Swings to Watson on the right perimeter. 10 on the shot clock. He throws an entry pass to Roy on the right block. Roy turns baseline and misses a tough, tough half jump hook. Decent play.
(Al Harrington three.)
Pacers call timeout.
97 – 96
TJ Drives hard right. Ball is stripped out of bounds. Pacers retain. Watson eventually gets ball on left perimeter. Drives into the paint, where he’s met by three Knicks. Puts up shot. David Lee blocks it. Roy grabs the loose ball and misses a short jumper. Bad play.
(Larry Hughes gets to the line, makes em both.)
Knicks take lead.
97 – 98
Granger passes to Jones who passes to Ford who passes back to Jones. Jones dribbles forward half-heartedly from the top of the key area and takes a pull-up jumper from 20 feet. No good. Bad play.
97 – 98
Harrington misses a three and TJ grabs the board, making a great outlet pass up court before even dribbling to a streaking Dahntay Jones. Jones gets hammered. Makes 1 of 2 FTs. Good transition work. Excellent pass.
(Al Harrington gets to the line, makes 1 of 2.)
98 – 99
Ford goes right on the perimeter, dribble hand-offs to Danny, who nearly travels before dribbling hard left and pulling up around the elbow to drill a jumper. Not a particularly great play, but Danny turned it into one.
Pacers regain the lead.
(Larry Hughes hits a lay-up.)
Knicks regain the lead.
100 – 101
TJ gets into the paint driving right and, when stopped by David Lee’s help-side defense, tries a cute little interior pass to HIbbert that doesn’t even come close to getting through. Turnover. Terrible, terrible play.
(Jared Jeffries gets to the line and makes both after being fouled by Granger, who fouls out.)
100 – 103
Watson gets the ball on the left perimeter. Swings to Jones in the corner. Jones drives hard to the middle and tries to find a cutting Tyler. Harrington easily pokes it away and is off to the races. Pacers have to put him on the line to prevent an easy lay-up. Terrible play.
(Al Harrington gets to the line, makes em both)
100 – 105
TJ and Roy run a pick-and-roll on the right perimeter. No advantage is created. TJ gives to Roy on the right elbow. Roy gives it right back. TJ dribbles left around the perimeter and makes a really weak pass to Rush on the left baseline. Rush should have at least caught it, but it bounces off his hand and goes out of bounds. Wretched play.
(David Lee hits a lay-up)
100 – 107
Watson takes a loooong three from the left perimeter early in the clock. Misses. Bad play.
(Chris Duhon is fouled, makes em both)
100 – 109
Ford penetrates right and kicks out to Dahntay, who makes a three. Good play. (Too bad the game is over)
(Larry Hughes is fouled, makes 1 of 2)
103 – 110
Ford drives right then kicks to Watson. He misses a jumper. Shocker. Bad play.
Not really much else to say.
There’s one great possession in there, which came outside of the half-court offense in transition, one good possession, which came after the Pacers were essentially mathematically eliminated from the game, and one possession that featured a great shot from Danny.
Other than that, they would have been better off dribbling around for 23 seconds and then throwing the ball out of bounds on purpose. Literally. That way, at least they wouldn’t have given the Knicks a numbers advantage on the break after a turnover or a missed rebound.
A few other notes before I unsuccessfully attempt to pretend this second half never happened:
Great first half, Danny. I can’t really kill you too much for just standing around the entire second half because of that — even though I should. You played poorly and never really got aggressive aside from that one time you did and got called for a charge. Again, you get somewhat of a pass, but please don’t ever, ever stand around and do nothing for that long again when the rest of the team — which is essentially the personnel equivalent of the Island of Misfit Toys, if we’re being honest — is getting nothing accomplished and the entire house is burning down. You’re only firefighter this team has to stop the flames. Grab a hose next time, please, so I don’t have to break out all these dumb metaphors again to describe how much you let down your teammates in the second half. I’m not creative enough to come up with many more ways to express how lethargic you looked in the second half.
Brandon Rush’s offensive acumen is so low right now that he looks like he barely belongs in the NBA. Once again last night, he appeared indecisive, hesitant, uncomfortable and, obviously, stunningly inaccurate with his jumper. If he was just missing jumpers in the flow of the offense, then fine. Slumps happen. But he is shooting when he should be passing. He is pump-faking, dribbling left and shooting when he should just be shooting. And he is just standing there holding the ball when he should be doing anything other than just standing there holding the ball. Every time he gets the ball it either stalls any ball movement there is or results in a missed jumper. He is all sorts of out of sorts, and he really needs to figure this out if he wants to continue to get playing time, let alone remain in the starting lineup.
I’m a big fan of Earl Watson’s through-the-legs drop-passes. That’s the second straight game where he has left the ball for a guy behind him like that. More importantly, please make a shot.
Tyler Hansbrough is the only guy who looked like the only big man out there who was a worthwhile option to give the ball to at the high post. He had many quick ball reversals from there and I expect he will also eventually be able to turn and face from there to add another component to the offense once the game slows down for him a little bit and he stops looking so coked-up on the court. The Roy Hibbert High Post experiment is a failure. Just stop it. No one can properly feed him the ball there (or anywhere really, but that’s a different story for a different time) and it’s not like he does anything with the ball aside from swivel around frantically if he does catch the ball anyway. He doesn’t turn and find a guy on the perimter. He doesn’t know when to hand off to a guard. And the whole thing just looks very JV whenever the team tries it. Put him in the pick-and-roll if you have to bring him that far away from the hoop. That didn’t look very great last night either, but it at least adds in the possibility of the penetrator getting a good shot for himself.
In a larger sense, Tyler is already the teams fourth-best non-injured player after Danny, Roy and Dahntay.
Luther Head is ineffective, and I’m being polite here.
This offense needs Mike Dunleavy very, very badly, despite what that 5-game win streak may have distracted us from thinking.