Babblings: Pacers-Knicks

The Pacers laid out the Knicks last night.  That's all there is to it.  All there is, except, of course, everything else we have to babble about:

  • There is not much good to be said in the bullet points to come about Eddy Curry.  That in mind, he did make one play wholly unique by his standards: In one fluid move, Curry took a power dribble in the post, spun off a double team and had the presence of mind to kick the ball out to a wide-open Jamal Crawford for a three less than three minutes into the game.  Just an excellent play, and one not usually seen from the passing-deficient Curry.
  • Now that the compliment for the night is out of the way, it's worth noting that Curry had a terrible all-around night.  Don't let the 4-for-7 field goal shooting and 8-for-10 free throw effort for 16 points fool you; Curry was a net negative for the Knicks last night.  He couldn't hold the ball down low, fumbling several passes away seemingly unforced, which led to seven turnovers.  Further, he failed to rebound like a center, going for just two on the night, committed three offensive fouls and really did nothing defensively.  Jermaine O'Neal in particular had his way with Curry all night.  He moved with ease past him around the rim, and when he stepped out for the mid-range jumper, Curry certainly wasn't following him.  Not an encouraging performance by the standards of anyone who doesn't hate the Knicks.
  • Nate Robinson took a DNP-CD.  Why this occurred, we may never know.  Not that I'm his biggest booster, but given the guard play that did occur for the Knicks, he certainly could not have made them any worse.
  • This has been said before, and it will be said again, but for the sake of at least trying to convey what happened in Manhattan last night, it bears noting once more: The Knicks guard no one.  Nobody.  Culprit number one last night was easily Zach Randolph, who consistently failed to get out on Troy Murphy (who hit five treys), didn't make much more of an effort than usual inside, lost his man with abandon and made a habit of walking back into the play late after failed offensive possessions.  Really, it was symptomatic of the Knicks' defensive play overall.  Quentin Richardson was a major enabler in Mike Dunleavy's 36 points, as he lost him and then failed to close out on several plays.  Curry was Curry.  Credit David Lee for working hard on Jermaine O'Neal early in the game, but beyond that, it was business as usual for the Knicks defensively.  Lots of open threes.  Lots of lay-ups.  Lots of easy post moves for the opposing big man.  The Pacers shot 58.3 percent from the field and 47.3 percent from deep.  No shock.
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  • Troy Murphy might have the ugliest shot in the game today.  No matter though, since he seems to have perfected the line drive trey.  Or at least he did last night, going 5-for-8 from deep en route to 17 points. Well done.
  • No matter how responsible the Knicks were for it, Mike Dunleavy looked awesome.  He just did whatever he wanted.  He shot the ball very nicely from the three-point line and midrange and got to the rim with ease.  The 13-for-18 shooting for 36 points reflects that.  Not much more explanation needed here.
  • The Illegal Screen of the Night Award goes to Indiana big man David Harrison.  Early in the second quarter, Harrison simply ran up behind Jamal Crawford and bopped him.  Nice work.
  • For a dude having a subpar season, Jermaine O'Neal looked excellent, especially early in the game.  He worked hard in the half-court offense, hitting his old faithful turn-around jump shots and also showing some nice skills with the left hand, going to both the baby hook and the scoop lay-up.
  • Here's a novel concept: A player practices a skill before the game and then uses it effectively in the game.  David Lee was on the floor an hour before game-time working on mid-range jump shooting with an assistant coach feeding him the ball.  He took two 15-footers over the course of this game, which resulted in four Knicks points.  Meanwhile, Nate Robinson and Zach Randolph spent the pregame shootaround throwing up shots from three steps out of bounds in the left corner.  Great (although Z-Bo did wind up hitting from 35 feet as time ran down in the first half).  Now, if only Lee and his coaches could devote some time to finishing clean lay-ups around the rim, he'd be all set.
  • There has been plenty of talk (much of it done by me) about the improvements in Jamaal Tinsley's game this season.  Certainly, his assist numbers are up, and he did thread another 12 dimes last night.  But the numbers don't come close to telling the whole story for him.  The Pacers play sloppy basketball.  While Tinsley had 6 turnovers, he also had an inordinate number of passes tipped, deflected and generally prevented from getting to their intended targets.  The numbers do tell the story regarding his shooting, as he went 1-for-8 from the field, a slightly more extreme exhibition of his sub-40 percent shooting this season (or sub-13 last night).  Tinsley has improved, and he does push the ball well for the Pacers, but his decision-making looks like it still has quite a ways to go.
  • Danny Granger plays a nice game.  He shoots well from mid-range and beyond and gets a lot of lay-ins thanks to well-timed cuts to the basket.  Plays defense and rebounds, too.  The man doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective, which is an underrated value in today's game.
  • Zach Randolph had a really good first half offensively.  He shot 7-for-9 in the first quarter and looked particularly solid with his trademark wing and high post jumpers.  His from-the-moon three-pointer gave the Knicks renewed life by cutting the Indy lead to seven at the half.  That said, Randolph scored just 4 of his 26 points in the second half, and his defense was as integral as any other factor to the Knicks' demise.
  • One more Z-Bo note: He deserves his own bullet point for the most criminal defensive play of the night, which came at 1:20 of the second quarter.  After an Indy miss, Randolph failed to get a rebound, as Troy Murphy tipped it away from him.  As Murphy dribbled the ball back to the right wing to reset the offense, Randolph tilted his head, tugged his jersey, yelled at the referee, and walked around in a circle.  All of this occurred just outside the low block, ten feet away from Murphy, who calmly spotted up and canned a trey with no defender within miles of him.  Unpardonable.
  • Once again, diehard Knicks fan and Money from the Parking Lot author Bill 'Willy Po' Powell joined me in attendance of this game.  His thoughts after the fact were brief: "I called 'em like I saw 'em tonight.  I saw Zach Randolph.  I called him a bum.  Easy."  He also insisted on replaying the aforementioned Randolph play 15 times when watching the game film later.  Yeesh.
  • Yet another 2-for-8 shooting night for Quentin Richardson.  He's hurt and needs to get some rest.  That is all there is to it.
  • Bizarre ending to the third quarter: The Pacers went the length of the floor in two seconds, Mike Dunleavy got the ball down low, ball-faked, drew contact from Randolph and threw up an errant shot at the buzzer.  The officials ruled that there would have been a foul but that it came after the buzzer, thus ending the quarter.  In what appeared to be a nearly unprecedented occurrence, the officials reviewed the play (you can review something other than a basket at the end of the quarter?) and then assessed that the foul came before the end of the quarter, awarding Dunleavy two shots from the line and restoring a tenth of a second to the line.  He hit both, giving him an absurd 22 points for the quarter and providing a reason for an extra television timeout.  Great times.
  • Renaldo Balkman may have had six offensive boards, but this was largely related to his five missed field-goal attempts (in five tries), virtually all of which were lay-ups.  Not the type of performance that will justify any pleas for more minutes for him.
  • The fourth quarter was chock-full of ugliness.  Marquis Daniels, Jeff Foster, Shawne Williams, David Harrison and Kareem Rush continued to pour it on for Indiana.  Mardy Collins shot an air ball, and Nate Robinson and Malik Rose couldn't get into what at one point became a 30-point game.  Little effort, lots of booing.  All in all, another satisfying Knicks stinker.  Label this writer content.
  • Finally,it's time for what is fast becoming my favorite part of these columns: Thanks to Axel and Patty at the concession stand outside the Garden for their hospitality and good nature.  Always a pleasure, fellas.
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