Later-Grades: Pacers Beat Knicks in Overtime
(Editor’s note: Apologies for the tardiness here. I was in Machu Picchu and returned to no internet, so I couldn’t watch live. Along those lines, I will be down in South America, living and traveling around, for the bulk of this season. This shouldn’t cause too many hiccups, but please bear with us at times if things aren’t as normal as … normal.)
If not for missed free throws and/or Beno Udrih getting weird in the fourth quarter, the Pacers wouldn’t have needed overtime for this win. But both of those things happened, so they were able to delight fans with some free basketball and some free drama.
You don’t want to watch pros miss so many unguarded 15-foot shots while time is stopped (Indiana was 5-for-9 from the line in the last six minutes of regulation), but ultimately it’s probably for the best. Because winning a game like this — in overtime, in Madison Square Garden, on ESPN, against a team you scraped with all night — can be a confidence-inflating moment. And that is much more meaningful in November than a couple of missed freebies or the frustration of watching a backup point guard’s prayers get answered on national television.
Moreover .. Paul Goddamn George. Good lord. This kid is something else. He remains constantly in control, cool and collected. Even Harlem’s A$AP Rocky had to stand up to recognize game.
The whole game was a slog. For all the talk of the Knicks not putting forth full effort every night this season, New York’s finest (by default since … the Nets) came to play heavy on Wednesday. They clearly recalled their vanquishing in Game 6 in Indiana last postseason and knew that they would have to match the Pacers unyielding intensity to win this one. Match it they did, going hard throughout.
And it might have been enough if Iman Shumpert hadn’t fouled George on a three-point try in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter. I mean, we’re talking about 2013-14 Paul George. So he may have made that triple if Shump didn’t smack his elbow. But, this is 2013-14 Paul George. So he was obviously stepping up to the charity stripe and knocking down all three free throws to send this one to overtime.
Here, in OT, he was even better, leading Indiana to a 7-point victory by singlehandedly outscoring the Knicks in the five extra minutes (9 to 7). Just another day in the life of the All-Star who scored 28 of his 35 points after halftime.
This wasn’t the best of these Pacers. They struggled, shooting just 37.9% in the game — something that was compounded by the fact that they got up way fewer attempts than the Knicks (87 to 100, partly on the strength of Indiana’s poor offensive rebounding). Yet they found a way to score enough to pull this out. They leaked out in transition for some easy buckets and got a couple others by forcing live-ball turnovers. (Indiaan scored 21 points off of New York’s 15 turnovers.) They ate at the free-throw line. And when they really needed scores late, they gave the ball to their go-to weapon and watched him devastate in the midrange.
This wasn’t the Pacers’ “best” win of the year. Depending on whether you weigh importance (beasting Chicago) to improve to 5-0) or sheer dominance (dismantling Milwaukee), it’s debatable which victory has been tops so far this year. But it was their most intriguing game, and a win like this on the road against a sorta-rival was just another great step in the right direction — which is virtually the only direction this team has walked towards this season.
|David West, PF 40 MIN | 4-13 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +2
Not his best outing from the field, but brought the toughness and ate some glass
|Paul George, SF 49 MIN | 12-26 FG | 9-12 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 5 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 35 PTS | +6
Magical in overtime and the fourth, especially ice-vein-nailing those three free throws to force overtime, and was devastating in the midrange throughout — just an absolute maestro, making moves upon moves upon moves to find space and get off his shot. Parlayed this into some sick dribble drives, too, and was eager to get out on the break for easy points. On the other end, he did as well as a guy of his weight with his frame can Melo when Melo is so determined to bully ball the block, outfoxing Anthony about as many times as Anthony got the better of him.
|Roy Hibbert, C 37 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +10
Made a great defensive play, mano a mano, in transition to thwart a would-be Carmelo layup. Went vertical, drew the offensive foul. But was soon forced to leave the third quarter early after picking up his fourth foul. Hit a three.
|George Hill, PG 43 MIN | 7-18 FG | 5-8 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +8
Though he can go unnoticed for minutes at a time, he always seems to be there to make a big, timely shot. The slow-break three he hit in the fourth was a perfect example, as was the catch-and-shoot triple he drilled not seconds after bricking two free throws. Arguably the biggest asset he gives this team is his mentality as a gamer. It was on full display late. (Though it would have been nice if he had made one of those long-ball attempts at the close of regulation.)
|Lance Stephenson, SG 42 MIN | 3-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 9 PTS | -4
Fouled inopportunely and showed some erratic decision making. But played spirited defense battling with Carmelo at times, attacked the glass and made several nice plays while serving as co-point guard for much of the game.
|Luis Scola, PF 16 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +6
Contributed wonderful Scola stuff.
|Chris Copeland, SF 7 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +7
Hit a three, missed another good look and played some surprisingly good defense at times.
|Ian Mahinmi, C 10 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -8
Can’t really recall anything he did.
|C.J. Watson, PG 16 MIN | 1-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +7
Had some ugly chucks at the rim, but soldiered through. He got himself to the line on a nice drive for his first points, and hit a the go-ahead three-pointer midway through the fourth that capped a brilliant scoring stretch for Indiana that slingshotted (slungshot?) them to victory in a game they trailed most of the way.
|Orlando Johnson, SG 5 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1