Sun 19 May 2013
A great season came to a disappointing end for the New York Knicks. The team we lived and died with who won 54 games, a division title and their first playoff round in over a decade- fell in six games to the Indiana Pacers. They dropped all three games at Indiana, including the Game Six second round elimination, 106-99. On a special Saturday Melee Overtime show, we had a Knicks rehab with esteemed colleagues Brian Sanborn, John Giagnorio, Justin Felix, Jennifer Johnson and final shot contestant Dan Wheeler.
It kills me to lose to that franchise. It’s too much of a bitter reminder of past Pacers 90′s teams who were never as good as the Ewing Knicks. Like a broken record, they were out-muscled and out-hustled by a more athletic team who didn’t rely on one star. If only Carmelo Anthony (game high 39 incl. 15 in 3rd quarter) had more help from the NBA’s fraud of a Sixth Man J.R. “Starks” Smith, who was too preoccupied with Rihanna to bother to show following his Game Four suspension for an elbow to Jason Terry in the first round. Instead, he regressed firing blanks. Every clang killed the Knick offense, making it one dimensional.
Tyson Chandler was a shell of himself. Unable to stop anyone or finish, he was a waste. Unfortunately, Mike Woodson had no options with handicapped Amar’e Stoudemire reduced to a cheerleader along with tortoise Jason Kidd and former ’99 hero Marcus Camby. As it turned out, Rasheed Wallace was a lot more important. He was a defensive presence who provided energy and electricity working as a dual threat who could step out and drain the three as well as post and toast. Sheed attacked the glass, blocked shots and was a presence. How many times did we have to see Paul George and Lance Stephenson go to the bucket uncontested? PATH—ETIC!
The thing that hurts most is the combination of Melo and Iman Shumpert (16 in the 3rd) combined for 31 of the Knicks’ 34 as they got back in it. They did everything possible to bring the series back to MSG for Game Seven. Instead, we’re left to ponder what might’ve been. Something that’s haunted Orange and Blue fans for years. What ‘if’ Charles Smith… what ‘if’ John Starks… what ‘if’ Reggie Miller… what ‘if” David Stern… what ‘if’ Ewing… You get the point. The fact they led in the fourth thanks to timely hooping from Chris Copeland and Smith (yes, he actually made his only 2 treys in 9 attempts) should’ve been enough to bring the series to the kind of dramatic conclusion it deserved.
I am not gonna get into the officiating. Fouls: Knicks 34 Pacers 16. It speaks for itself. Even with all the thuggery the Pacemakers were allowed to get away with and dives from the reincarnation of Bill Russell/Wilt Chamberlain according to ESPN, Roy Hibbert, the bottom line is the game was there for the taking. They didn’t make the big plays in crunch time. Melo disappointed with only one field goal and two free throws. Shumpert picked up his fifth foul on an atrocious call because Stern probably ordered it or perhaps Larry Brown.
It didn’t help that they got nothing from Ray Felton (2 Pts on 0-7 FG, 6 A), who vanished against concussion prone George Hill. What will be remembered is that when push came to shove, it was the Pacers who finished strong. They dominated the paint outscoring the Knicks 52-20 and again won the board battle 43-36 including 14 offensive to our 11. They still were right there in a higher scoring shootout that favored them. Our heroes rediscovered their magic touch from downtown, connecting on 13 of 30 trifectas to Indiana’s 4 for 15.
The difference was the Pacers lived at the charity stripe scoring 16 more points than the Knicks. Even though they missed a dozen from the line, the Pacers still sank 34. New York went a perfect 18 for 18. But if you combine the decided edge Indiana had inside, they outscored the Knicks 86-38. That means the Pacers only got 20 points from the perimeter. Insane! How hard is it to pack it in and let them shoot from the outside. Clearly, they aren’t the best offensive team. Something that’ll be exploited by the Miami Heat in what should be a cakewalk to the NBA Finals. Can anyone picture Pacers having free access to the basket?
Maybe if the Knicks had a defensive presence who wasn’t 100 years old in basketball terms, it’d have been an easier match-up. Instead, they’re stuck with Chandler and Stoudemire. Good thing they added Kenyon Martin. Outside of the preposterous Black Suit Funeral failure against the Boston Celtics in Game Five, K-Mart acquitted himself well. He provided a lift when Woodson called on No.3 off the bench, playing solid D and grabbing rebounds. A sore spot for New Yawk.
In the end, the Pacers were more balanced due to their size. Even without a semblance of a bench (NYK 31 IND 8), their entire starting lineup hit double digits led by former Lincoln Rail Splitter standout Stephenson, who netted nine of a career best 25 in crunch time. He added 10 rebounds in what easily was his finest effort. Two other Pacers scored 20-plus with George finishing with 23 and Hibbert getting 21 along with 12 boards (6 Offensive) plus five blocks, including a highlight reel rejection denying Anthony of a dunk. Unfortunately, Mike Tirico and his partner went on and on about it. Almost as sickening as listening to that objective former Pacer Antonio Davis pick his team to close it out due to it being “their time.” You can’t make it up.
David West was also a difficult match-up in the series due to his combination of inside play along with his ability to knock down mid-range jumpers with the latter wreaking havoc because it pulled Knick defenders away from the basket. That played right into Indiana’s hands. Team Try Hard won the battle and now gets a date with Team LeBron. As hard as it is to admit, I hope the Heat destroy the Pacers. Especially that good for nothing thug Tyler Hansbrough and Charlotte Bobcats reject D.J. Augustin, who a clueless Frank Vogel played too much during the second half with Stephenson glued to the bench. He tried to give the game away but ultimately, the Knicks couldn’t take advantage.
It’ll be a long summer ahead. Even though the Knicks finally gave us some excitement, I come away feeling empty. This team was better than how they finished. There’s no way they should’ve lost last night or to Indiana. For some reason, it felt like they weren’t as motivated after beating that old age home in Boston. Perhaps having to go an extra two games hurt because Melo was relied so much upon. He ran out of gas in the fourth despite a superhero effort. It also would’ve afforded banged up Knicks like Chandler and Shumpert more rest. Hell. That could’ve even helped Kidd.
Not facing Miami is heartbreaking. Even if they probably would’ve lost, I wanted to see them get there. There’s no guarantee they’ll be back here next year. It only becomes harder. I don’t know about you. But I won’t be watching the next round. I can’t.