With absences up and down the lineup, everything was set for this to be a fun and carefree trial for the youngest of the Knicks. Instead, those yougnsters gave most of the floor to New York's oldest healthy players, and said oldest healthy players made it a close, if ultimately disappointing game.
Jerian Grant and Cleanthony Early both started, but struggled to score, so Kurt Rambis got itchy and turned the second half into the All Sasha And Afflalo All The Time No Passing Ever Show. And uhhhhh Sasha got kinda hot for a while there. The Pacers led by like 18 at one point after a blizzard of fast-break buckets, but the Knicks contained that pace somewhat in the second half, ran a bit themselves, and had chances down the stretch thanks in large part to Sasha. Those chances, pictured:
That's a cool set with several options! (Don't tell anyone I said this, but Kurt Rambis has some neat out-of-bounds sets). I don't think a twice-contested pull-up three when you're down two with plenty of time left is the best option available there, but Sasha Vujacic didn't spend 10 years playing in the NBA and growing all that beautiful hair to get his options explained to him by the likes of me.
Aaaand then there was this:
What you see there is Arron Afflalo cutting the Pacers' lead to 1 with an unlikely bucket fading to his left (unlike Sasha, he'd been quite cold, failing in several attempts to be Kobe). And then you see the focus of a referee review that determined Afflalo's shot did not count because his heel was on the sideline, which ... was it!? I dunno. Whatever. This season has been peppered with back-breaking replay reviews of plays I didn't even know the officials were allowed to review. Arron Afflalo might go Falling Down on the city of Secaucus at some point if this keeps up.
I dunno, I guess that would have been fun if they won. The way it turned out, I would have much rather watched Grant and Early try and fail (or not fail!) for 10 more minutes apiece than watch the above gentlemen execute a large but incomplete comeback. Oh well. Shoutout to Robin Lopez, who busted his (for 35 minutes!) but couldn't get a damn thing to fall, and looked pretty flustered about the whole ordeal. Shoutout to Langston Galloway, whose minutes would be carefully limited if the Knicks cared about managing his cap hit this summer, but who played a meaty 31 to Grant's 26.
That's the recap, I think: Useless minutes for guys with nothing to gain, a fake comeback, and a dick of a replay review. A Knicks game, basically. Rubbercons' quote in the headline was my reaction exactly.
I hope the youngs get to play more in the future. I hope everyone stays healthy. I'm glad there are just 4 more games.