“May you live in interesting times.”
Ah yes, we all know that Chinese saying that isn’t actually a Chinese saying.
Well folks, there is no question that these are interesting times. But I’ll #StickToSports.
This game started pretty ho-hum. Pacers were having their way on offence, and the Knicks were doing all they could to make it look like Indiana was actually doing something defensively by coughing it up on what felt like every possession. It was bad, and Papa Seth Rosenthal did a good tweet about it.
Thrice a week I sit in front of my TV and torture myself for 2 hours and 15 minutes— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) January 24, 2017
The Knicks looked bad, Reggie Miller was talking about Melo on the Spurs and tweets and comments from Knicks Internet had a very “screw you guys, I’m going home” ring to them. To rub salt into the wound, very predictably, TNT showed a Reggie Miller highlight package during a timeout. Yes, those Reggie Miller highlights.
With 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter, the Pacers were up 25-13 and to say this one was looking bad for New York would be as much of an understatement as saying Willy Hernangomez needs more minutes...or that this was a less than ideal free throw by Joakim Noah:
Joakim Noah knew his free throw was awful the second it left his hand. pic.twitter.com/ztu3deqxPG— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) January 24, 2017
(We can laugh now because they won)
Before we could all convert our “turn off the TV fingers” into “tweet Phil Jackson fingers”, New York’s second unit — which Marv Albert called “above average” — was beginning to make a dent in their large deficit.
Hernangomez, Justin Holiday and Brandon Jennings were the catalysts, which seemed to ignite a few strong Derrick Rose drives to the bucket. The trio of Hernangomez, Holiday and Jennings combined for 24 second quarter points, and helped New York actually take a 62-58 lead into the half.
And this wasn’t the type of 4-point halftime lead where Carmelo Anthony and/or Kristaps Porzingis get hot to give the Knicks a lead they can’t ultimately maintain — New York was getting points from inside the paint with Hernangomez (10 pts in the 2nd) as well as from further away with Holiday (2-4 from 3pt range in 2nd). That allowed D-Rose to do D-Rose things, which at times can be as magical as it can be flat-out annoying.
This game officially entered the danger zone when in the 3rd quarter, Reggie Miller (yes, that Reggie Miller, the UCLA one) went out on a limb to predict the Knicks to the playoffs. It just sounded so weird. Reggie? Being nice to the Knicks? And also, playoffs? Not gonna insert Jim Mora vid.
All throughout the second half, it had me thinking, though. The Knicks had come all the way back to take a 16-point lead and appeared to be on their way to another solid win over an opponent ranked higher than them on the road. After the Suns debacle, the Boston win was looking more and more flukey. But maybe it wasn't? Maybe the Knicks did have a good second unit and maybe they’d have what it takes to beat a Toronto on the road in a 7-game series.
Aaaaaannddd before I knew it, would you look at that, it was a tie game again.
With 42 second left, Paul George made a pair to tie it up at 103, and I’d like to think that at that point all Knicks fans were well beyond “oh no, here we go again,” but rather “What new and exiting way will they find to blow this one?”
Melo was iso’d down on the left block with the shot clock evaporating. This one had aaalll the fixins’.
But, he hoisted up a shot that went in. 2 of his 27 points on the night, and they were absolutely clutch as can be.
Melo finished with 27 points, 4 fewer than he had Saturday night against Phoenix. But the most important shot went in this time, which is all that fans usually remember.
Then, on the other end, Myles Turner turned the ball over in hilarious fashion. Ha! Finally, another teams knows what it feels like! The game was done, and New York had won. As P&T’er JR and the Off-Balance Shots noted, some of the late-game weirdness that has doomed this club in recent weeks finally balanced out.
You see, loyal readers, this game was far from normal. Even when it got tense, everything seemed to go well for the Knicks. If Reggie Miller’s ominously-timed prophecy turns out to be true, they’ll need more good breaks, and more production from that second unit. And maybe from their starters too...that would be great.
Sure, Joakim Noah finished with just 2 points. Porzingis managed a paltry 8 point, missing his first 6 shots of the game and reminding Knicks fans that the boy ain’t right. But THIS second unit picked them up.
Hernangomez had 14 and 10 boards, a steal and 2 blocks matched up against veteran big man Al Jefferson and later against up-and-comer Myles Turner. His duels with Jefferson on the block were particularly inspiring. Holiday had 13 points to go along with 3 steals and 2 blocks. Jennings had 9 points to go along with 6 assists, though he turned back into a pumpkin in the fourth quarter as Hornacek went to the predictable “2-PG” lineup where neither point guard is actually doing any point guard stuff. For the first time in a while, though, Hornacek seemed to catch onto the fact that it wasn’t working, and re-inserted Holiday for Jennings.
It worked — just barely, but it worked. Reggie Miller believed in THIS Knicks team. New York erased a big deficit on the road against a pretty solid Indiana team.
Interesting times, these.