Knicks Fall to 3-8 With Disheartening Overtime Loss to Pacers

Published on: 21st November, 2013

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paul george gets fouled by Shumpert
Paul George is Indiana's leading scorer  | read this item

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New York — Sometimes a team is just snake bitten. It will play well enough to win its share of games but the occasional bad play here or there will happen at an inopportune moment of the game that will add another mark to the loss column. To illuminate this notion, we give you, the New York Knicks, whose head coach, Mike Woodson would like to believe his teams’ eight losses in its first 11 games is a matter of getting rid of those pesky snake bites.

That’s Woodson’s public explanation, anyway.

On the other hand, after tonight’s 103-96 overtime loss to the 10-1 Indiana Pacers, one has to begin to question whether it’s a snake doing the biting or if it’s his players simply not being good enough or smart enough to close out games with wins.

The Knicks played their best game of the season tonight against the confident, talented, strong, and physical Indiana Pacers and actually held a three-point lead, 89-86, with just 5.2 seconds remaining in the game. With a frenzied home crowd anticipating a rare Knicks home win, the Pacers’ Paul George situated himself beyond the three-point stripe when he received the entry pass from George Hill. George set up for a jump shot as Iman Shumpert put up his hand to defend it.

Shumpert’s hand created just enough contact with George on the shot for Joey Crawford, the referee, to call the foul. Video replays showed there was barely the slightest of touches by Shumpert to George’s arm but it was enough to put George on the line. The league’s Most Improved Player last year calmly sank the free throws to tie the game at 89 and after Anthony’s last second miss, the Knicks collective body language looked like they had already lost the game. Snake bitten or dumb basketball play? You decide.

The Knicks proceeded to fall apart in overtime as George, the Pacers’ version of Carmelo Anthony except George plays great defense and scores his points within the flow of the offense, scored nine of the Pacers 14 points in the extra session to sink Woodson’s crew.

Referee Joey Crawford saw this play as a foul by Shumpert

Referee Joey Crawford saw this play as a foul by Shumpert

The Knicks dropped their sixth straight at home after having won their season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks.

“Heck of a win for our guys,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. “A grind-it-out kind of game. That’s sometimes when we’re at our best. The offense wasn’t really flowing but our defense really buckled down.”

Anthony led the Knicks with 30 points and 18 rebounds as he almost single-handedly carried the Knicks to an upset win.

“I thought we had the game won,” Anthony said. “And in overtime, I don’t know, they just walked away with it.”

One of the sub-plots of this contest was the matchup of Indiana’s George, who has clearly moved into the higher echelon of NBA stars in this, his fourth season, against Anthony. Two forwards, among the most talented players in the league, going at it, fiercely.

George won the points battle, 35 to 30, and he won the crunch time battle, taking over the game on both ends of the court in the last quarter and in overtime. George also scored his points more efficiently than Anthony, shooting 12 of 26 from the floor while Anthony shot 10 of 28. Anthony had the rebounding edge (18 to 5) while George had only one turnover to Anthony’s four.

At 6’9″, George is a great athlete, able to get his shots off the dribble with smooth crossovers, quick bursts, and heady use of his teammates’ screens. He seems to get his points mostly within the flow of the Pacers’ offense as opposed to Anthony, who receives a pass from a teammate and holds onto the ball for several seconds looking to free himself for a shot. The Knicks offensive flow tends to stop once the ball hits Anthony’s hands.

At 23-years old, George is still improving his skills while Anthony, now 29-years old is what he is, a great scorer who does not seem able to see the floor well enough to make his teammates better players the way a LeBron James or a Jason Kidd or a Kevin Durant seem able to do. That’s no criticism of Anthony, it’s a rare gift to be an extraordinary individual talent who can also make his teammates better. George looks like he may be on that road ridden by very few players while Melo’s game hasn’t grown. He’s scored more, sure, but not more efficiently, and not to the benefit of his teammates, who are stuck standing and watching a 41 percent shooter dominate the ball.

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