Post-Game Grades: “It Is a Bloodletting Here in Indiana” as Pacers Hand Knicks Worst Defeat of the Season
The Pacers have laid down some good ol’ fashioned beatdowns this year, but none have felt as one-sided or as significant as the axe murder they put on the Knicks tonight. It was over before it started, as Roy Hibbert made his first three shots and the rest of the team followed suit, jumping out to a 30-18 first-quarter lead and never looking back.
“It is a bloodletting here in Indiana,” said Knicks broadcaster Spero Dedes, who at one point called the score “hard to believe and tough to explain.”
Really, games like this happen to almost every team every year. When it rains it pours and the Knicks just had no energy, execution or, seemingly, will to compete during what was their first game since February 13. They got punched in the gut right after the opening tip and their only attempt to make this a game came from a heave-and-hope offense that launched three-pointer after three-pointer hoping that a ball would bounce their way.
It never did, and looking at the punt-looking attempts Jason Kidd was tossing in the general direction of the rim, it was no surprise.
Indiana simply out-physicalled New York and the Knicks wilted, allowing an active, energetic Pacers defense to dictate the force turnovers, push the tempo and create easy buckets. And the nonexistent Knicks defense served as the perfect canvas for a precise, confident Pacers offense to paint its masterpiece. It was a thing of beauty to behold on both sides as Indiana seemed to simply wait for the first sign of weakness and then react like a rottweiler. (© AZ)
Getting past the actual happenings on the court, this was a loud message.
It’s cliché and all that, I know, but coming out of the All-Star break like this is nothing if not a statement to the rest of the conference.
Everyone believes that the Heat will enter the playoffs with the number-one seed in the East, which makes spots two and three the coveted positions. New York and Indiana, in that order, currently hold down those seeds and both teams are trying to avoid the four spot — and, thus, a second-round date with Miami — like a truck stop toilet seat.
It likely won’t come down to a tiebreaker, but the Pacers now have a 2-1 series lead over the Knicks (with the final game to be played in April in New York.) Meanwhile, Indiana has also smacked around Miami twice this season.
This team knows who its chief rivals are, and it makes no attempt to mask its desire to beat these teams. It treats these not as games but as events, and tonight they turned a high-profile matchup into must-see TV for both Pacers fans and Knicks haters.
There is a lot of time left before the playoffs and a lot can change before then.
But right now, on this night, after a bumrush out of the break like this, the Eastern Conference playoff picture can be broken down into three tiers: (1) the Miami Heat …. a giant chasm …. (2) the Indiana Pacers, and (3) everybody else.
The Pacers are by no means as overpowering as they looked tonight, but they have the best defense in the NBA and, now, it seems, a capable offense as well.
You never want to read too much into one regular season, but, man, this win was impressive.
|David West, PF 27 MIN | 6-11 FG | 6-8 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +25
|Paul George, SF 33 MIN | 11-19 FG | 1-1 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +16
… Knicks …
|Roy Hibbert, C 18 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +5
… can …
|George Hill, PG 28 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +24
… probably …
|Lance Stephenson, SG 28 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +21
… blame …
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 19 MIN | 2-3 FG | 6-10 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +17
… this …
|Jeff Pendergraph, PF 23 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +12
… on …
|Sam Young, SF 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +18
… something …
|Gerald Green, SF 6 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +4
… that …
|Ian Mahinmi, C 10 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +9
… John …
|Ben Hansbrough, PG 5 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +1
… Starks …
|D.J. Augustin, PG 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +9
… once …
|Orlando Johnson, SG 14 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +9