This team, man. What else is there to say? All-Star Break, sufficient rest, and the Knicks still delivered one of their worst all-around performances for the year. Having now lost four of their last five games and just a half-game removed from third place, now is the time to be very concerned about where the Knicks are headed over the second half of the season.
PUTRID OFFENSE AND DEFENSE: The Pacers are known for their phenomenal defense but also for their struggles to score. In fact, they are one of the lower teams in the league when it comes to scoring. Last night you’d have no clue as damn near the entire team lit up the Knicks to the tune of 53% shooting and over 100 points while still in the third quarter.
The Pacers were getting open treys at will since the Knick guards couldn’t fight through picks to close out. It’s become a tradition as of late to have some unheralded guard drop a career or season high against the Knicks, and last night it was Orlando Johnson (8 pts, 2-2 from downtown) and Sam Young (7 pts) — the latter could be seen slamming home windmill dunks in the fourth.
The Knicks offense (33.7% shooting) was pathetic with zero ball movement and hoping for Melo to be hot (he wasn’t). Melo went 7/21 for just 15 points and no one else stepped to fill the void except Tyson Chandler (19 pts, 11 rebounds), who got 11 of his points at the line. Amar’e Stoudemire had 7 points and just one field goal as he struggled to handle Tyler Hansborough and was nearly ejected for yelling at a ref.
Raymond Felton tried (12 pts) to make things happen, but the pick and roll with Chandler was well scouted and there was zero cutting from any of the players around him. The guards of Iman Shumpert, Jason Kidd and JR Smith would go a combined 2-17 for just 9 points.
GAME ENDS IN THE 2ND QUARTER: This game didn’t feel promising from the outset. A four point deficit in the first felt like 10 the way the offense was going. The Pacers bench took full advantage and outscored the Knicks 44-26 in the second quarter to take a 77-44 lead into halftime.
WOODSON REMAINS STUBBORN: Coach Woodson had a terse rebuttal when asked in the post-game if he’d consider changing the starting lineup. He said it was a matter of getting better, not changing lineups. Has Woody gone mad? Going back to when Felton went down with the hand injury, Kidd has been a disaster in the starting lineup. Over his last three games, he’s only made one shot and is getting torched on defense. Last night it was Lance Stephenson (14 pts) abusing him. And it was sad to see Iman Shumpert trying to be play small forward and at times having to body up much bigger guys like David West.
This lineup is not going to cut it. Woody’s love affair with Kidd will have this team looking at the fifth seed if this keeps up. First off, Kidd needs to be benched, Shumpert to shooting guard, Stat to power forward and Melo at the 3. We need as many offensive weapons as possible and as we’ve seen, just dropping it in to Melo will not suffice.
A MENTALITY OVERHAUL: For a team that likes to administer bully ball, they sure do not handle it well when a team gets physical with them. Once again, the Knicks resorted to whining (Stat), and cheap shots when the game got away from them. JR Smith got ejected for his shenanigans with Stephenson, and the team just seemed to literally bend over like we’ve seen far too many times this year.
We’ll see if this was a wake-up call on Friday when the Knicks look for revenge against the Toronto Raptors.[youtube http://youtu.be/26pR2UedLNY]