Pacers 106, Knicks 93: "Aren't the Pacers the team that is supposed to be struggling these days?"

Fair question, ny knickerbocker. I thought that was the case. The Knicks have a way of flipping storylines, though, and they lost yet another lackadaisical game against a floundering team. The Pacers, to their credit, defended quite vigorously and seized every bit of space the Knicks relinquished. New York, though, was way, way, way too content to give up said space. Their offensive struggles are one thing-- remember that Chauncey Billups was returning from a six-game absence after just four active games-- but the practically invisible defense was inexcusable and pretty shameful for a team that's trying to climb into the East's upper echelon. This team CAN defend. We've seen them do it. But for whatever reason, they don't feel that's necessary against lower-rung teams. On some nights, their scoring is enough to cover for casual defense. On nights like tonight, when the offense isn't clicking, that lack of effort gets exposed.

While the Knicks shot a miserable 37% on one end, their defense allowed the normally incompetent Pacers to score at a 57% clip. Tyler Hansbrough had a career high 29 points by just lining up mid-range jumpers when uncontested and strolling to the rim when contested. As a unit, the Knicks showed very little rotation and rarely helped without fouling. And...that's pretty much it! Take the jump for a few notes, but I don't especially feel like dwelling on this one. I'd rather go eat hummus and watch this Fab Five documentary.

- Carmelo Anthony was among the many Knicks whose defense was sub-par, but he was offensively superb in the first half...and only the first half. He scored 20 points on 8-14 shooting over Dahntay Jones before the break, but let Jones get under his skin a bit in the latter two quarters. Melo finished just 9-22, which means he was [mathmathmath] 1-8 in the second half. He also committed two charges.

- Amar'e Stoudemire played a nice offensive game (28 points on just 15 shots), but his interior defense and rebounding was abysmally gracious and careless, even for Amar'e. When Roy Hibbert caught the ball on the interior, Stoudemire would pretty much just start running back on offense. One move in either direction, and Amar'e would just get out of the way and let Hibbert score. Same deal with Hansbrough. Somehow, he manged to pick up five fouls without even playing defense.

- Chauncey Billups got into the paint for drawn contact and nice feeds early, then fell in love with the three-pointer. Chauncey's output suggests that he and the three were, at least for the evening, star-crossed lovers. He shot 0-7 from downtown, including some truly hideous contested pull-ups early in the shot clock.

- Toney Douglas didn't shoot any better (1-8), but his shots were, to my eye, decent looks that he just couldn't get down. He also did a better job staying in front of Tracy Chapman's little brother, Darren Collison.

- The zone defense kind of worried me. it worked at times (a nice Shawne Williams block on Hibbert, a Melo steal to a transition finish, some missed outside shots), but I'd almost rather D'Antoni expose his guys' lack of effort instead of hiding it in a zone. Obviously, his job is to do what he can to win the game, but it felt at times like Knick defenders needed to either get their shit together or continue to be punished. I'm feeling grouchy.

- I really think we'd all be a lot happier with Jared Jeffries if he just shot the ball righty. I swear all of these layups he's missing are with his left hand. You're already pretty uncoordinated, Jared. Why exacerbate the problem by working with your weaker hand? (For the record, Jared missed a jumper and two free throws with his good hand, so maybe this is all moot.)

- Thanks to Walt Frazier for making what was otherwise a miserable two and a half hours even remotely entertaining. His best moment came when MSG showed Ne-Yo, who was to be interviewed by Jill Martin at halftime (it was a pretty decent interview. He seems friendly). Kenny Albert asked Frazier if he had any questions for Ne-Yo, to which Clyde replied "uh...who is he?". Clyde then went on to disparage Ne-Yo's short-brimmed hat, explaining that he favored a wide brim himself. Then, to make the whole thing even grander, MSG put up a bunch of shots of hatted people int he crowd and Clyde provided off-the-cuff hat commentary. Lesson: Don't be entering Clyde's lair with them stingy-ass brims.

- By the way, in that interview, Ne-Yo said that he owns "thousands" of hats and once spent five thousand dollars on a necktie.

- Commercials for that Sandals resort place are never not creepy. Have any of you ever been there? Can you reassure me that it's not some weird cult hideout?

- He deserves credit for a really terrific game, but the way Tyler Hansbrough juts out his mouthguard then slurps it back into his mouth is seriously revolting.

- A quiet round of applause for Shawne Williams, who actually played some defense and pooped thrice, Bill Walker, who may be back in the rotation, and Ronny Turiaf, who was the only individual to show any enthusiasm at any point in the evening. Anthony Carter did not play, but someone in the thread said they'd heard he was sick. I haven't seen anything about that.

That'll be all. I'm not sure whether it'd be Knicks-ier to make up for this loss with a thrashing of the Pacers in Indy on Tuesday or to fall even further in the rematch. We'll see. It was just one game, but it sure was unpleasant, and it sure did resemble a bunch of other "just one" games. Alright, Fab Five time.

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