I thought we had the game won. And in overtime, I don’t know, they just walked away with it. – CARMELO ANTHONY
I wouldn’t be surprised if Iman Shumpert hasn’t gotten any sleep yet. Ahead 89-86 with just 9 seconds left in the game, the Knicks needed one stop to snap a three-game losing streak, and more importantly show themselves that they have the ability to hang with the league’s best teams. Instead what happened was Shumpert committing an absent-mined, slight touch on Paul George’s elbow as he shot a three, allowing him to sink three free throws to push the game into overtime and hand the Knicks a heart-breaking sixth straight home defeat.
As usual, there were positives, but they’re hardly consoling in light of the end result. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at what the Knicks can take out of this game.
UDRIH MAKES HIS CASE: With Raymond Felton again out, Beno Udrih got the starting call and delivered a season-high 18 points, snatched 8 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists. He spaced out the floor with his three-point shooting (3-4 from behind the arc), and hit several circus shots (one late in the 4th to give NY a 87-85 lead) on broken plays. Hopefully his performance prompts Coach Woodson to keep him in the rotation when Felton returns.
JR SMITH COMING AROUND: Outside a late 4th quarter three-point attempt too early in the shot clock, JR had a strong game. He contributed 21 of New York’s 26 bench points and added 5 rebounds. 10 three-point attempts is excessive, but that’s JR and he hit several key ones to keep us in the game.
KNICKS HOLD THEIR OWN WITHOUT MELO AND BARGNANI: The Knicks have had numerous third quarter collapses this season. When Melo and Bargnani had to sit with fouls, there was danger of it happening again. JR Smith picked up the scoring slack and Metta World Peace added good defense to keep Indiana at shooting 32% and take a 64-58 lead into the fourth.
REBOUNDING EDGE: The Knicks should use this game as a blueprint of what they can accomplish on the boards with effort and intensity. Despite the big and bruising Pacer front line, the Knicks held a 52-49 rebounding edge behind 18 rebounds from Carmelo Anthony. Everyone in starting lineup made a concerted effort there including Bargnani, who snatched down 9.
THE DEFLATING MOMENT: Shumpert’s touch foul on George’s three-pointer was absolutely crushing for the team’s psyche. All their energy and confidence disappeared and the Pacers pounced behind George’s hot mid-range shooting and outscored the Knicks 14-7 in the extra period.
Shumpert has already struggled with confidence due to the trade rumors and this will do him no favors. Woodson even chipped in some pointed criticism, calling Shumpert’s foul “lazy.”
MELO LEAVES IT ALL ON THE FLOOR: Melo didn’t have a good shooting night (10-28), but he played his heart out in every aspect of the game. He fought hard for rebounds (9 of his 18 were offensive boards) and even got a key block on George in the closing minute of regulation. It’s hard to even complain about the repeated isolation plays in overtime because he appeared to be the only New York player still fighting for the win.
The Knicks will get three days of rest and return Saturday (November 23) to face the Wizards in DC.