The Knicks lost a heartbreaker to the Pacers, 112-104, as they had an eight-point lead at the half, and a 15-point advantage going into the fourth, but they were not able to play with as much fire and desire in the final quarter.
Carmelo Anthony once again had a superstar performance for the team, as he scored 39 points (17-31), pulled down 10 rebounds, dished out two assists and had two steals. However, nobody else on the team scored more than 15 points, and more importantly, nobody stepped up as another scoring option in the fourth quarter.
Landry Fields was the second leading scorer for the Knicks with 15, but JR Smith played instead of him in the fourth, as Woodson might have wanted him in the game since his has the ability to carry the team on offense.
The Knicks shot a respectable 46 percent for the game, but they allowed the Pacers to shoot 47 percent, while not coming close to containing the efficient Danny Granger, who shot 8-16 on his way to 27 points and seven rebounds. Paul George scored 18 points and three other Pacers scored in double figures.
Since the Knicks wasted the a 15-point lead that they had going into the fourth, not many positives can be taken from this game, but one improvement is that they only had 12 turnovers. Before this contest against the Pacers they were leading the league in most turnovers per game with 16.
The Knicks had a 17 lead, with less than a minute to go in the third, but they were outscored 19-4 until the 6:07 mark of the fourth. Granger scored 11 points up until that point. During this stretch of the fourth the Knicks relied too much on shooting contested jumpers instead of going to the basket.
Anthony willed the Knicks to stay in the game as he made a jumper near the foul line with about 5:10 left in the fourth. The Knicks were outscored 24-6 in the fourth up until 4:40 was left in the game.
The Knicks did show some fight as they did make the game exciting in the last few minutes. Melo was able to get the team back into the game by himself as he drove to the basket for a conventional 3-point play and then made a corner 3-pointer to make the score 101-99.
Melo was basically the offense for the team in the fourth, but he could not sink a 3 with 22 seconds left to reduce the Pacers lead to one-point.
To add to the embarrassment of how they performed in the final 12-minutes of the game, JR Smith was called for a flagrant-two foul, after he unnecessarily shoved Leandro Barbosa to the floor with less than 20-seconds remaining, which led to him getting an early exit from the contest.
This is the first game while Woodson has been the coach that he did not have the team ready to play with intensity in crunch time. They fell flat and will need to have more scorers with the hot hand if they want to win close out games, especially since their next three games include a game against the Magic and two against the Bulls.
The Knicks lost the intensity in the fourth because if they just would have been able to play decent defense they could have come away with the win at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers are more prepared to play the fourth quarter right now since they are healthy and are a deep team who can basically go to four different players to score at any time.
They really needed to win this game as the Knicks could have gained a game on the 76ers since they lost to the Heat. The Knicks are now 2.5 games out of the 7th seed, four games behind the sixth seeded Hawks and four games behind the division leading Celtics, which would likely give them the fourth seed. Also, the eight seed is not locked up as the Bucks are only 1.5 games out of the playoffs.
The Knicks play the Magic on Thursday, who are only 4-6 in their last 10 games, and could possibly get Amar’e Stoudemire back since he is day-to-day. They will need his scoring ability back on Thursday or on Sunday when they play the first of a home-and-home with the Bulls, who only have 13 losses.
It seems like the best case scenario will be winning two out of the next three games, but they need to win the first one, since they proved they can handle the Magic when they beat them by 22-points last Wednesday. In order to beat the Magic once again they will have to keep up the defensive intensity and ferocity for all four quarters.