The Knicks ran out of gas in the final game and to add insult to injury the basketball Gods dealt a fatal blow with Jalen Brunson fracturing his hand and was out most of the second half.

The New York Knicks fell in Game 7 to the Indiana Pacers at home, failing to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and failing to do the near impossible – overcoming injury to their entire starting lineup.

It was do or die for the first time in forever — since 1995, specifically, when the Pacers actually beat the Knicks in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden. They pulled out all the stops, starting both Josh Hart (abdominal strain) and OG Anunoby (hamstring strain) after both looked sure to be out for the elimination game. Of course, New York was still without Mitchell Robinson (ankle), Bojan Bogdanovic (ankle and hand), and Julius Randle (ankle), but the inclusion of Hart and Anunoby held some sort of weight as they desperately needed to shore up their depleted starting lineup.

Game 7 in the Garden tipped off with a Jalen Brunson bucket, but it was responded to quickly with a Pascal Siakam jumper. Anunoby then hit his first shot of the night – a three-pointer – an excellent sign considering he had been out with injury for a few games. Anunoby then hit another three with time winding down, but the Pacers were keeping close pace with New York and hitting their threes as well. Indiana went on a quick run to open the first, and it was making it a bit difficult for New York to pull back. Defensively, it was clear that the Knicks were a step slow, whether that be due to injury or just poor switching. Anunoby was taken out early, likely for rest, and neither team seemed ready to play defense after the media timeout. Donte DiVincenzo looked hot to start, a welcome sign as the Knicks needed everything they could get. After a quick respite due to a challenge from Indiana and a brush-up between Siakam and DiVincenzo, play continued. Tyrese Haliburton hit a three to extend the lead to six for the Pacers with about four to go in the quarter. Brunson continued to also hit his shots, but the defense on Haliburton lacking was killing New York’s momentum entirely. He completely obliterated them around the perimeter, scoring three after three, and the Knicks were down by 12 early.

After shooting 76 percent from the field in the first, the Pacers seemed in control. The Knicks had to open the second with some ferocity if they wanted to get back in this contest, and frankly, it didn’t look like they had the energy. They were relenting easy buckets to Indiana in the paint, losing assignments on defense with ease while struggling to find offense of their own. In the blink of an eye, the Knicks were close to being down 20 early in the quarter. They finally were with eight to go, as Brunson had to be brought back on the floor to bring some semblance of offense to the team. It was defense that was lacking, though, and the lead ballooned to 22. Alec Burks was contributing excellently on offense for the team, and a few buckets from him seemed to start inspiring both the team and the Knicks on defense. They picked up some turnovers on Indiana, and they had to call time after Burks got to the line for two free throws and with a chance to pull them to within a more manageable deficit with five minutes to go in the quarter. While New York was slowly but surely chipping away at the Pacers’ historically good shooting and lead, the defense was making it hard to make a meaningful dent. A bleak first half finally came to an end with New York down a seemingly insurmountable 15.

The second half opened, and the Knicks opened with two much-needed stops on defense. On offense, though, New York looked cold – a bad scene as they really did need to capitalize on any window they could find against such a hot-shooting Indiana team. After another stop, Deuce McBride was able to drive with ease to the cup and score, getting the lead down to 11. After a timeout, the Knicks got yet another stop and DiVincenzo hit a three to bring it to within single digits – an eight-point game with nine to go in the third. Haliburton responded with a three, but Brunson hit right back with a haymaker in a three. It got down to seven with another DiVincenzo three, and New York got a stop yet again. But, two silly turnovers got the lead back up to 12 for Indiana. Sloppy ball handling and horrendous execution of simple out-of-bounds plays were killing momentum found to open the third, and things started looking bleak. The lead was 17 headed into the fourth, and barring a historic comeback, New York’s season had just 12 minutes left.

The Knicks opened the fourth with some scoring at the free throw line from DiVincenzo, but with the bad news that Brunson was back in the locker room with a broken left hand. It took the air out of any potential for a comeback, as the Knicks would then have to deal with the idea of an Eastern Conference Finals without their All-Star. Brunson going down marked the last starter to finally, unfortunately, succumb to injury this season — he, Randle, Robinson, and Anunoby were all taken down, and with that exit, it was just a matter of counting down the minutes until the contest would be done and the Knicks’ season would be over. I will be very honest with whoever is reading this for a second – I had no desire to write about the very Knicksian comeback taking place thanks to a shockingly relentless Burks and DiVincenzo. We just watched Brunson break his hand, the crowd was pretty much dejected by the five-minute mark of the fourth. Nothing to really write home about. But, I will say, it was so much fun to write about this team and their games this season, and I look forward to seeing how they do next season with a retooled unit and a healthy starting lineup.

Hart had one of the gutsiest — no pun intended – games for the Knicks, scoring 10 points, grabbing eight boards, dishing out eight assists, and recording two steals. Burks finished up with 26 off the bench, another appreciated performance, and had three boards and two steals. DiVincenzo had 38 points, four rebounds, one assist, and two steals. Other than those players, the team was spent, and their stats were not much to write about.

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