By Max Marcilla
Knicks 71 Pacers 82
The Knicks were trying to regain home-court advantage after splitting the first two games with Indiana at Madison Square Garden, and after three days that seemed like forever for the fans, the day finally came for Game 3.
The game was highly anticipated, and at the half, all the excitement from everyone was drained from our bodies. A terrible game was occurring in front of our eyes. The Knicks shot 33% and were held to 33 points. J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony and Raymond Felton were held to a total of 17 points. The Knicks had played arguably their worst offensive half of the year, but were still in the game due to poor shooting by Indiana. They only had 36 points, down by 3 at the half, keeping the game close. Exactly what a team on the road in playoffs would want.
Unfortunately for the Knicks, their worst nightmare happened. The small 3-point deficit grew in the second half and Indiana never looked back. The lead went up to as much as 16 points, as the Knicks offensive woes continued.
New York ended the game with multiple uncharacteristic statistics offensively. First, the Knicks shot 35%, a mark that is low for any team, let alone a team that is capable of shooting much better. Second, the Knicks turned the ball over 15 times, which is remarkably high considering the Knicks led the NBA for the fewest turnovers per game in the regular season. The last offensive stat that is shocking for the Knicks, and not in a good way, was their three-point shooting. The Knicks set an NBA record for most three-pointers made in a single season. Their ability to shoot from beyond the arc vanished in Game 3. They attempted only 11 threes, well below their average, and made only 3 of them.
While the Knicks offense was horrific, their ability, or should I say lack of ability, to rebound killed them the most. Tyson Chandler continued his horrible stretch, as he got dominated on the glass by the series MVP thus far, Roy Hibbert. Hibbert bounded and astounded, ending up with 8 offensive rebounds. Hibbert finished with 24 points, as a chunk of them came off the second-effort points. This was an incredibly disappointing game for Chandler, who looked flat and like he didn’t want to win. Once the heart and soul of the Knicks team, Chandler took a huge setback tonight. Tonight Chandler said, “ They didn’t follow the game plan”. Alarming words for any team, especially for a veteran team in the playoffs.
Another huge piece to the Knicks puzzle in Raymond Felton was missing tonight. Felton had been the lone Knick to consistently perform in the post-season. Tonight he was awful. Felton finished with 6 points on 1-8 shooting. Not only was he not getting his shot to fall, but also he wasn’t able to lead a usually successful Knick offense. Felton managed only 3 assists while turning the ball over 3 times, a horrific ratio for a point guard. Felton was seen bickering back and forth with Woody, as New York could not get in the flow of the game and set the pace.
Lastly, the struggles of Carmelo Anthony and J.R Smith continued tonight. Anthony started off strong, but finished incredibly weak, missing his last 7 shots, looking warn down. The collection of misses helped hold the runner up for MVP to 21 points on 6-16 shooting. Smith was equally as bad while suffering from the flu. Smith had a few nice moments where he drove to the basket, a recipe for success that Smith lost in his box of tricks in the post-season, but he struggled with making his shots. Smith finished with 9 points on 4-12 shooting, and has once again disappointed his coach, teammates, and fans. Smith saw a minutes decline in this game, as he only played 25 minutes, but that could be attributed to his illness or his lackluster play.
The headline of this game was the return of Amar’e Stoudemire. That was the only somewhat decent part of the game. STAT scored 7 points while on his 9-minute restriction, but looked good. Unfortunately, in a series where the Knicks were getting out-rebounded and out-muscled in the post, STAT is not the answer for those Knick problems.
This game was horrific in many ways. The Knicks got outhustled, out-rebounded (by 13) and beat at their own game. This was a game that the Knicks deserved to lose, but one that they desperately needed to win. Tuesday is Game 4, and the biggest game of the season. The Knicks are down two games to one, and after one of the worst outings of the year, you have to wonder which team is going to show up in Indiana. Will it be the team that hustled and deserved a well-fought Game 2 victory? Or the team that gave up in the end and allowed the Pacers to stomp all over them in Game 3? I guess we will see on Tuesday.