CAROLINA CRISIS: THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU By Michael...
Knicks Outrun Pacers in Game 2
NY in must win game comes up big
NEW YORK – It happened after Game 5 of the Boston series and it happened after Game 1 of this Indiana series. Whenever the Knicks suffer a loss, panic (but not with the players and coaches) sets in and negativity is at peak levels. That is what happens presumably when there’s a fan base and media outlets that have been starving for the glorious days of the 1990s. The late 60s and early 70s when the Knicks were actual NBA champions 40 years ago is a distant memory; except for nostalgia purposes only.
This group of New York Knicks are as confident as they are talented and not necessarily in that order. Talented enough to where they are the second seed in the East behind the vaunted Miami Heat. The Knicks redeemed themselves from the dreadful loss that befell them in the first game, 102 -95. They outran the Indiana Pacers, 105-79. “I thought our pace throughout the game, offensively was great,” Coach Mike Woodson said. “J.R. (Smith) struggled to shoot the ball. We finally found some offense and that helped us play pretty good defense.”
The Knicks looked far more lively and aggressive in Game 2. Perhaps it was the sense of urgency that set in. “I thought it was a total team hustle game,”Coach Woodson said. “Everybody was involved with deflections. Our hands were active. Our rotations were great. Our rotations weren’t very good the first game. We had so many lapses. After watching tape and rehearsing, I thought our rotations were right where they needed to be.”
The game was laden with heroes. It seemed as though different players took over in different quarters. Ray Felton, who has been having a stellar post-season thus far was great in the first quarter. Iman Shumpert was outstanding in the second quarter with what has been labeled as, ‘the dunk of the year. Coach Woodson said of his prized pupil in second year man, Shumpert, “He has a lot of pop. He is moving laterally, he is shooting the ball.” Coach was referring to Shumpert’s coming back for a torn ACL.
The third and fourth quarters were equally shared by Carmelo Anthony who finished the game with 32 points on an efficient, 13 for 26 shooting and Pablo Prigioni. Prigioni basically pitched a perfect game en route to his 10 points. He was 4 for 4 from the field that included 2 for 2 from 3-point land. Prigioni also had 4 rebounds, 4 assists and zero turnovers.
The Knicks as a team only had 6 turnovers for the game. Consequently, the Pacers had 21 and 7 of those belonged to All-star forward, Paul George. George said, “That has been our Achilles’ heel. We just didn’t take care of the ball and make shots. We had open looks, but the turnovers (21-6), that’s tough to overcome. Pacers coach Frank Vogel added, “You have to give them credit. They played a great basketball game. We game them 13 second shots. You are not going to win the game when you are giving them 23 more shots than we are getting.”
The series now moves to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Saturday. With only 2 games played there’s no telling how the series has really tilted. Each team wants to play their own particular style and brand of basketball. The Pacers aren’t a good scoring team so they rely primarily on their defense. The Knicks like to play with a lot of pick and rolls and shooting the 3-point shot. If the Knicks are hot and on target, the Pacers could find themselves in trouble. But, if the officials let the teams play physical as the Pacers were in Game 1, then the Knicks will have decisions to make as far as their small ball line up.
They arguably very well could have lost Game 1 because of emotional toll the Boston series had. Sure it was the hated Boston Celtics, but there were a few things that road along with that. The tragedy of the Marathon Bombing was still in the air. Boston had recently swept the Knicks out of the Playoffs (2 seasons ago). The Knicks hadn’t been out of the first round since the 2000 season. The newly minted Sixth Man of the Year, J.R. Smith decides to go MMA with an errant elbow on Celtic guard, Jason Terry’s noggin. That transgression cost him a game and a chance for the Knicks to return a deed and sweep the Celtics as they were up 3 games to zero. And of course the big elephant in the room, Carmelo hasn’t been out of the first round but one time in his 9 year career.
Melo who scoffs at the idea of having to deal with pressure, “in my mind, I can’t allow myself to deal or feel pressure.” Melo says. “That would just mess things up for myself and my team.” But, there had to be a haze over the team to deal with the Celtics accordingly as the second seed is to a seventh.
Being that the Pacers were able to steal a game on the Knicks’ court, the series has officially started. That is in accordance to the old NBA cliché, ‘the series doesn’t start until the road team wins on their opponents home court.’
Jerald L. Hoover