Hey, okay! We all knew the Pacers were going to come out pissy and aggressive after Friday night's humiliation. They did, and they gave the Knicks some trouble, but New York weathered the Pacers' high-scoring first quarter with some hot shooting of their own, then locked Indiana down the rest of the way. Once again, New York got a pretty balanced effort and meaningful contributions from all ten men who played. Jeremy Lin led the way on offense and the bench players buoyed the defense for New York's third straight double-digit win since Mike Woodson became head coach. It was a gutty road win, just like blackhova said in the game thread, and an encouraging sign from a team that got to coast through their last two victories.
Take the jump for some individual notes.
- It wasn't quite a pun-worthy game from Jeremy Lin, but it was still an excellent, versatile outing. He had his troubles-- some errors defending Darren Collison in the open court, the usual handful of iffy dribbles and telegraphed passes (though just two turnovers, which seems wrong), and a couple silly shot attempts. Lin was awesome in pretty much every other respect, though. He attacked relentlessly but patiently, keeping his dribble to find himself looks at the basket and draw fouls in traffic. Lin's passes got mishandled and converted into misses more than usual, but he made plenty of nice entries and shuffle passes that did turn into baskets. The treat of the evening was Lin's rebounding-- he snaggled a career-high seven defensive boards-- a couple of which he ripped away from Pacer bigs-- and led the break all the way from the backcourt. He had a couple big buckets in the mid-fourth to increase New York's lead from from three to seven. Very solid game.
- Neither Amar'e Stoudemire nor Carmelo Anthony was dominant offensively, but both were aggressive and got their looks at the rim to draw fouls. Both missed their jumpers and had limited success on post-ups (after each hitting their first outside shots), but both thrived catching and finishing headed to the basket. Melo got lay-ins in transition, as a trailer, and off an inordinate number of broken plays. Amar'e shanked a few of his plays at the rim, but made some nice, patient moves in traffic. And while I didn't see any particularly amazing defense from either player, both stepped their shit up after a meek first quarter-- Danny Granger finished with 11 points and David West had just three.
- Lin, Melo, and Amar'e combined for 25 free throw attempts (Melo, weirdly, was just 3-7). The Knicks as a team shot 31-40 from the line to 20-27 from the Pacers. That was the major difference in this one.
- Landry Fields remained cold from outside and was hit-or-miss off the dribble. He did have one really, really impressive offensive rebound and putback over the Indiana bigs. I wrote "WOW" in my notes. After over-helping and giving up a couple open jumpers in the early third quarter, Fields got shouted at by Coach Woodson and sat the rest of the game. Accountability and stuff!
- Tyson Chandler had to deal with a much sharper performance from Roy Hibbert, but put in some great defensive possessions. He didn't see the ball much on offense, but made his presence felt with five offensive rebounds, including some extra-effort saves and tip-outs.
- Mike Bibby played in Baron Davis's absence and looked great in the first half. Despite wearing bright orange knee socks and what appeared to be panty hose around his right arm, Bibby drilled a couple jumpers off the catch, ran some perfect pick-and-rolls with Jared Jeffries, and made one awesome chase-down save in the backcourt to keep a possession alive. He didn't really do much in the second half, but those second quarter contributions were lovely.
- Breen mentioned that Bibby's participation with Davis out was "emergency duty", which made me giggle because I'm five and a half years old and I pictured Bibby squirming in a pair of Depends.
- Jeffries had a mini offensive renaissance in the second quarter (he hit a jumper) and made a couple nice plays as a help defender, but this wasn't his best outing. A couple attempts to draw charges turned into untimely blocking fouls, and he got shook by Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough on a couple of inside moves. Oh, and he wasted several would-be Lin assists in the second half.
- Steve Novak hit two absurd threes in the second quarter-- a pull-up off a waddling dribble to his right and a contested bomb off the catch-- but kinda went cold the rest of the way. He didn't get very many clean looks and finished just 2-6 on the night (which really isn't bad, but this is Steve Novak we're talking about). Novak also muffed a couple passes to and from Lin in the third.
- J.R. Smith hit a couple very important quick-release threes to cut into a first quarter Indiana lead, then was pretty cold the rest of the night.
- Iman Shumpert shot poorly (1-6) and was pretty out of control when driving to the basket, but got to the line a bit and was the major backcourt force in New York's awesome second and fourth quarter defense.
- Clyde on the Knicks' St. Patrick's Day uniforms: "This green isn't as ghastly as I thought. It's more palatable". I'm not one to doubt Clyde's sartorial analysis, but...agree to disagree.
- Breen, in a (perhaps unintentional) moment of punny brilliance, referred to Larry Bird being in his "usual perch" in the crowd.
- Clyde actually had a pretty tender moment when reflecting on visits to his old hometown and noting that a lot of the people who helped shape his game are gone now. (This came in response to a bit of old unearthed footage of Clyde playing in college that will apparently be aired on MSG at some point soon. Can anybody clarify this? I sort of missed that exchange.)
- New York went on a 20-6 in the second quarter with all bench guys (then Chandler and Melo later) on the floor.
- Clyde, during a promo for "Boomer and Carton", did a Boomer Esiason impression and shouted "SHUT UP!" into his microphone. Breen was momentarily dismayed because he thought he was being told to shut up. It was awesome.
- We got to watch Jeffries introduce Bibby to his (adorable) parents. I like to imagine that Bibby was the only teammate Jared introduced to his parents.
- Jared's parents were also put up on the "Kiss Cam" later in the game. Jared's dad took his Rays cap off to deliver the kiss.
- Donnie Walsh was in attendance! His hair looks fuzzier.
- New York weathered a really, really terrible third quarter. The starters came in and sorta spazzed out defensively, just doubling and over-helping to let the Pacers get open jumpers. Amar'e and Melo kept posting up, but couldn't make much happen from the sides of the floor. New York shot 3/13 and had six turnovers in the period and watched a 14-point lead dwindle to just three. Those big buckets from Lin and some free throws built that lead back up before Indiana could take one of their own.
And that's all! It was great to see the Knicks survive some adversity and step up their defense after a loose first quarter. 'Twas a hard-fought win on the road in the second of a back-to-back, and that's a quality win indeed. New York gets two days off before returning home to face the Raptors. Have a lovely night, everybody. <3