The Indiana Pacers needed a win to keep hope alive in avoiding the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the opening round of the playoffs. What a bunch of rubes. The Knicks sewed that up weeks ago. Nevertheless, Indiana rode a dominant third quarter (sound familiar?) to a 102-90 victory, ending New York's
Year TwoYear One of their "process" at 32-50.
Recent research by a British University compared the brain activity of people before and during LSD trips. Among their findings is that the LSD-brain is closer to the brain we know as infants, both "free and unconstrained." That was the Knicks in the opening half: a free-flowing, que sera, sera bunch who were sharing the ball and drilling their shots, including their first seven in an obvious and moving tribute to #7, Carmelo Anthony, who was out of action along with Kristaps Porzingis, Jose Calderon and Lance Thomas. The first quarter was the Derrick Williams versus Ian Mahinmi show, with each player scoring a dozen. No need to sit; you're not hallucinating. The first half was a taste of what Jerian Grant can do on both sides of the ball. The rookie penetrated, dished, swished, had several standout defensive plays, and generally looked like a guy you like running the point for your favorite NBA squadron.
I've no math or statistics to support this claim. But trust me when I tell you the Knicks took more baseline jumpers and corner threes tonight than ever. Ever. It was like watching a soccer team take corners for 90 minutes. They hit a lot of these looks early, but as hot as they shot they were only up one at the half. In the second half Indiana forced New York into mad turnovers, leading to lots of transition buckets and pushing the pace, which leads to spacing and cross-matches, and the levy broke after a 17-2 run that put the Pacers up 79-66, all the distance they'd need in cruising to the win. An uplifting start following by a precipitous drop: game 82 and the 2015-16 season, in a nutshell.
- 18, 6 and 6 for Grant in 39 minutes. Curiously, the Knicks didn't seem terribly interested in having the ball in his hands for much of the second half. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- No Melo. No Calderon. Only 22 minutes for Robin Lopez. See? Kurt Rambis LISTENS!
- With those 22 minutes, Lopez became the first Knick center to start all 82 games since Patrick Ewing in 1992. Lopez was also the only Knick to start every game this year; the only other Knick to appear in each game was Langston Galloway.
- Props to those who had RoLo, Grant, Williams, Cleanthony Early and Sasha Vujacic ever starting together. And props to those guys for scoring 40 points on 68% shooting (17 of 25) in the first half. Forget Golden State. This is your new Lineup of Death.
- Weird Stat of the Day, courtesy of Kenny Albert on MSG: Early has nine career starts. Including tonight, his last four have come against the Pacers.
- The Pacers swept the season series 3-0. They swept it last year 4-0. That means Early has never tasted victory over Hickory High.
- Promising Pacer rookie Myles Turner had 13 points and 5 boards in limited action (18 minutes). Ex-Pacer Danny Granger now works as an analyst for NBA TV. Earlier this week, Granger compared Turner's hair to Milli Vanilli. He compared other players' hair to Milli Vanilli, too. Do the world a favor, NBA TV: hire analysts who can be bothered to do some research - if not about basketball, then at least about locks.
- The Pacers finished with a winning record at home for the 27th year in a row, second only to a 34-year romp by Phoenix way back in the day. If that does anything for you.
- When the season began, I wasn't sure Kyle O'Quinn was an upgrade over Jason Smith. I'm still not.
- If Kurt Rambis is let go, I'll remember him as the brotherhood of ill-fitting pants. Every timeout, this cat's hiking them shits up mad casually...so casually you know it ain't casual. Either get a hold of Clyde Frazier's tailor or get a hold on your issues, Coach Kurt.
- I miss Travis Wear. I'll say it.
- Kevin Seraphin and Sasha Vujacic are in the running to be Jack Haley to Porzingis's Dennis Rodman. I hope they both stay on to share that title. Make it an international buddy film. Release it on Periscope. Push out the jive. Bring in the love.
Quoth The Ghost of Kristaps Past: "It's okay. It’ll all be over soon. Shhhhhh." In some ways, it is over. Next game isn't for more than half a year. But for most of us, it won't be over till we know who the next coach is. And for some, if that someone is a certain someone, it'll never feel over. Many thanks to all who read and react to what we do here. The product on the floor often fails to keep the home fires burning over a full season, but the passion, humor, and zaniness y'all bring day in and day out makes it, ironically, maybe more fun to be a Knick fan now than ever.