Lethargic Knicks Lose To Lowly Pacers

Published on: 13th March, 2011


Lethargic Knicks Lose To Lowly Pacers  | read this item

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NEW YORK – A basketball team is like a symphony orchestra in that the sum of all its parts, played together, tends to sound much better than the individual instrument players. Basketball teams and orchestras are also similar in that they’re only as good as their weakest link. Once both teams get in the rhythm of things, however, they tend to get into an easy flow, making beautiful music together.

Tonight, that all-important rhythm was missing for the Knicks. So too, was any sense of hardnosed defense to try to stop that juggernaut known as the Indiana Pacers, who, coming into tonight’s game had a 27-38 record and were losers of their past six games.

Tyler Hansbrough scored a career-high 29 points, Dahntay Jones added 18 in place of leading scorer Danny Granger, and the Pacers rolled to a 106-93 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden.

Indiana was in control all night and moved back into a tie with Charlotte for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Roy Hibbert had 12 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots.

Hansbrough scored 20 for the fourth straight game, while Hibbert bottled up Amare Stoudemire a number of times on drives to the basket and Jones did solid job defending and frustrating Carmelo Anthony.

Stoudemire scored 28 points for the Knicks, who lost their second straight. Anthony added 25 but shot just 9 for 22.

New York had Chauncey Billups back in the lineup after he missed six games with a bruised left thigh, but both he and the Knicks’ offense were a step slow. He had nine points and shot 4 of 14, while reserve Toney Douglas, who played well starting in Billips’ place, missed his first nine shots and finished with three points on 1-of-12 shooting.

“It was good to be out there,” said Billups. “It has been a long six games just watching. We were just a little out of sync, today. That team was hot, a lot of guys shooting it well and playing well. Once they got it going, it was tough to stop.”

But, the chemistry between Stoudemire, Anthony, and Billups seemed more than a little out of sync.

“Well, I don’t know when the chemistry thing becomes an issue,” said Billups. “I just know we haven’t been able to get…we have had one real practice and it was yesterday. The trade happened two weeks ago. It is not that easy.”

Despite the Pacers’ skid, interim coach Frank Vogel said before the game he was “encouraged” by how hard his players had been working, saying he believed the worst was behind them. The Pacers rewarded his confidence, dominating the game on both ends despite missing the 20.6 points per game from Granger, who had the flu. Indiana shot 57 percent from the floor and held New York to 37 percent.

Madison Square Garden was at its energetic best while the Knicks were out of town this week during Connecticut’s historic run through the Big East tournament. The Knicks sleep-walked through their return home, taking the buzz right out of the building and even hearing boos during a lopsided third quarter and again at the end.

Indiana led by eight at halftime, then got 13 points in the third from Hansbrough while extending the lead to 20. The Pacers were 9 of 14 in the period — Hansbrough made 5 of 6 — and held the Knicks to 30 percent shooting. Making matters worse for New York, Anthony and Stoudemire both had to go to the bench with their fourth fouls during the period.

There was no run in the fourth with the Knicks never getting the lead into single digits.

Indiana raced to an early eight-point lead before New York answered with a flurry, taking its first lead when Billups grabbed a rebound, flung a long outlet pass with his left hand to Anthony, who made the basket and was fouled. His free throw made it 17-16, but Indiana quickly recovered and led 29-21 after one, shooting 59 percent.

The Pacers led by as much as 13 in the half, outshooting the Knicks 60.5 percent to 39.5 percent and taking a 54-46 advantage to the locker room

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