Despite taking a short-lived lead, the Pacers extinguished any chance of a happy ending with a 12-0 first-half-ending run, and the Knicks lost their third straight game.

After a long road trip against a round of playoff-bound Western Conference teams, the New York Knicks returned to Madison Square Garden to be demolished in front of the home crowd.

The Indiana Pacers outclassed the Knicks, winning 121-106. While the results are largely similar to the road trip, getting embarrassed at home at least found the Knicks familiar environment.


 

Big Man Woes

The Knicks struggled to get the offense going in the first quarter. Enes Kanter and Mitchell Robinson were both declared out due to injury or illness and left the team significantly shorthanded at the center position—putting immense pressure on Luke Kornet.

Kornet is typically an effective three-point shooter and the offense relies on this to open the lane for a drive by getting the big out of the paint. This time, however, Kornet had an off day, and struggled to produce. He picked up two fouls early in the game and spent the rest of it either on the bench or bricking shots. Kornet ended the game with only one field goal made on seven attempts.

Noah Vonleh held his own, mostly, but he found himself in foul trouble early as well. Neither he nor Kornet could stop big man Domantas Sabonis from destroying the Knicks in the paint. He finished the game shooting 9-for-14 from the field and tallying 15 rebounds.

This was indicative of the Knicks non-scoring struggles too. The Pacers out-rebounded the Knicks 47-37. What’s worse is that Myles Turner, the team’s starting center, was out due to injury. Indiana didn’t even need him to destroy the Knicks in so many ways on the road.

Stagnation and Incompetence

The Knicks dug themselves a hole to begin the game but found a way to rally and even found a short-lived lead in the second quarter. Fast break points and a high pace kept the Pacers on their toes, and the Knicks capitalized on them.

This didn’t last long, however. Whenever the Knicks were able to put a cork in the Pacers’ offense, Indiana found another way to dominate.

A pair of back-to-back threes by Tim Hardaway Jr. energized the crowd and his teammates, but minutes later the team was demoralized by Victor Oladipo hitting a pair of back-to-back threes himself. The 12-0 run by the Pacers to cap off the second quarter was the point at which victory became unrealistic.

If the Knicks can neither hold off the Pacers’ offense nor get their own going, how are they going to win a game? Answer: They won’t. The Pacers’ lead grew steadily until they were comfortably out of reach.

Highlights: Garbage Time

Mario Hezonja, garbage time legend, didn’t squander his newly allotted playing time (much). He shot a lousy 4-of-12 from the field, but he played passing lanes considerably well, swiping five steals in the flow of the game.

Kevin Knox didn’t have much of a first quarter, but he finally found a semblance of offense late in the game. He, like Hezonja, took advantage of his subpar matchup in the fourth quarter and scored seven points in the final period. He ended the game with 14 points, two assists, and two rebounds on 50 percent shooting.

All things considered (like Sabonis ruining him in the paint), Knox didn’t have an awful game. He took advantages of his touches and was aggressive whenever he got the ball. Even the two dishes are an improvement, before he only looked to score. If 19-year-old Kevin Knox dishing out two assists is the prelude to him becoming a well-rounded player, then fans should be here for it.

Damyean Dotson played well and evenly, although he unfortunately left the game early with a contused left calf injury. In 28 minutes he had 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists off the bench while shooting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. A steady player, Dotson was the even-keeled guard in tonight’s wild lineups.

Injuries

  • Tim Hardaway Jr. left the game with an injury. He did not return.
  • Damyean Dotson left the game with a contused left calf injury. He did not return.
  • After the loss to the Pacers, the Knicks record fell to 10-32. With the #RoadToZion well underway, the Knicks are in great shape to draft such a prospect—but, for now, they need to focus on Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

The Knicks host Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers next on Sunday, who were surprisingly upset by the downtrodden Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.