In the annals of the 2015 Knick methods of losing, tonight was one of their classic "silencer" losses. There was no ominous sign it was coming, no single moment nor brilliant opponent performance that did them in. This was one of those losses where they're in the game -- in this case, even leading most of the first half -- then you blink or take a piss or wonder why we park on driveways and drive on parkways, and next thing you know they're down 30. The only warning sign these kinds of losses are coming is seeing the Knicks on a basketball court. If predestination exists, this is what it looks like.
Any good story needs tension, so of course the Knicks had to tease before they tumbled. A first quarter spearheaded by Carmelo Anthony and Lou Amundson (!!!) saw New York's lead grow to as large as 11. The Knicks shot 61% from the field and assisted on nine of their first 11 baskets, against just two turnovers. Knock knock. Who's there? Tank. Tank who?
The second and third quarters were the tumble, a bottomless pit of Indiana dominance down low and shameless Pacer purloining that'd put the gildiest of gilded ages to shame. They took what they wanted. They gangstered baskets. When the Knicks played single-coverage down low, the Pacers scored at will, to the tune of a 50-26 advantage in the paint; when the Knicks doubled, the Pacers drilled threes like Mike Tyson's greatest hits. The stats say Indiana only hit six three-pointers. But stats don't live. Stats don't love. Stats don't have hot blood pumping through them. I was there, man. It was raining threes from dusk till dawn. For the Knicks, the third quarter was 94 feet of Murphy's Law. "All's well that ends." T-minus 110 days till the draft lottery.
- The Mayan apocalypse of a third quarter, where Indiana outscored the Knicks 35-12, opened with Amundson getting his shot blocked and ended with Hardaway getting his shot blocked. Signs, signs, everywhere a sign...
- Also in the third: two immediate buckets by Roy Hibbert led to Derek Fisher calling a quick 20-second timeout. Hibbert proceeded to score three more buckets. Worst. Timeout. Ever.
- Remember when the Heat put the kibosh on Linsanity? Langsanity, thy Miami is Indiana. The Pacers shut Galloway out for most of the game, until he hit a tough running lay-in/floater-ish thing late (pay attention, Shane Larkin!) for two of his four points.
- On the other end of the spectrum, Lou Amundson had 17 points.
- In one game.
- Did you get that?
- Lou Amundson scored 17 points tonight. And there were other people in the gym.
- A few of them were even defenders.
- Lou's Wilt-like performance snapped the longest single-digit game scoring streak in the NBA at 102 games. Strange days? Indeed. The strangest? LOL, nah.
- Players often admit they get up to face their former teams. Does this mean Amundson is in a perpetual state of extra-motivated, since he's played for like half the league? I suspect it's more likely he achieved a Zen-like state of grace long ago. MSG played a clip of him talking about energy being contagious, which he expanded to apply not only to basketball, but "life." You can have Stephen Hawking's brain when he's gone. I want Sweet Lou's soul.
- I don't know where GIFs are born, or how people like Bronx Chica have access to the dopest ones. But in the midst of the blowout, there was one particularly pretty two-man game between Jose Calderon and Jason Smith. Jose faked a three-pointer, drawing C.J. Watson to contest, then dished to Smith and cut inside the three-point line. Smith passed it back to Calderon, who took it near the baseline and went up for the shot over David West, only to kick it back to Smith. Jah then gave it back to Calderon, who was back behind the three-point line, only now he was open. Swish.
- So, this Roy Hibbert owning the Knicks thing...that's gotta end sometime, right?
- Indiana hit nine of their first 10 and 15 of their first 19 from the field in the third. They weren't gimmes, either. Lotta threes in those buckets. Or maybe when you're tripling the other team's score over 12 minutes, it just seems like a lotta threes.
- At the half, Knick starters were 19 of 31 from the field. The bench started 1 of 11 before heating up in garbage time to end 10 for 32. A team in need of a ping pong ball transfusion is only ever as strong as its weakest link. #TANKDEPTH #TANKSTRONG (Can we get old LIVESTRONG bracelets and make them camouflage instead of yellow?)
- Quincy Acy missed a wide-open three, but luckily stepped out of bounds first, allowing those who dream of him becoming a stretch-four someday to keep hope alive.
- 18 points in 25 tank-conscious minutes for Carmelo. Maybe it's the injury forcing him to slow down...but I feel like Anthony's shot selection has been more patient and wise the last few games. If this is a preview of how his old man game will evolve, I'm happy to hold on to him till he's 35, and happier still to watch him supplant Paul Pierce as the greatest old-man scorer since MJ.
- Tim Hardaway Jr. injured an ankle late in the game and couldn't put any weight on it. Love hurts. So does the tank.
- The Knicks are starting to get awfully good at having guys drive baseline to the basket, then finding a big - often Amundson - in front of the block/charge line for easy buckets. I can name any number of 19-year-old draft-eligible seven-footers who'd look good on the business end of these actions.
- Midway through the first quarter, Smith caught a pass off a curl and drew multiple defenders as he squared to shoot. Seeing the defense collapsing, he adjusted and dished to Carmelo underneath for an uncontested lay-in. At what point has Smith (8 points/7 rebounds/5 assists) done enough good that we begin to think about the possibility of him as a future rotation player? His play has improved as much as anyone's since the dawn of Triple L (Lance/Lou/Langston).
- David West > Chuck Norris. West bloodied Smith with an elbow to the mouth three minutes in to the game. Smith recently concussed Marvin Williams and broke his nose. He's one of the NBA's great Bring The Pain forces. Hurting Jason Smith is like spitting in the face of God.
"How did this turn into a blowout?" JR Myth pondered. Because Knicks. Don't miss the biggest sporting event of the year Sunday. Knicks vs. Lakers! Big market slumming for odds! The 76ers play Atlanta and the Timberwolves face the Cavs between now and then, so the Knicks could gain the pole position for last place if they play their cards right. Or wrong. Which is it again?