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Pacers 110, Knicks 99: Scenes from getting owned in the paint

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So close, yet so never really a threat to win...

NBA: New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks hung in all night but lost it late, falling 110-99 in Indianapolis. There are reasons New York’s chasing a top-three draft pick while Indiana chases a top-three playoff seed; over 48 minutes those reasons emerged gradually but inexorably.

The Knicks were without Allonzo Trier, Mitchell Robinson and Lance Thomas, while Tyreke Evans was sidelined for the Pacers. Early on the Knicks couldn’t quit the turnovers. But bright spots were visible much of the evening.

If you remember Indiana’s win earlier this season in New York, Victor Oladipo had a big steal late in a close game off Tim Hardaway. Today he ripped Tim again in the second and Emmanuel Mudiay felt enough was enough. This bucket followed an Enes Kanter three and brought the Knicks within three.

Indiana maintained slight, discernible separation throughout the half.

This was a modern NBA game played by modern NBA players thinking modern NBA thoughts, so moments like Thaddeus Young getting Mudiay caught in a mistmatch in the post and then kicking it out to Myles Turner for a semi-contested 3 were unavoidable. But it was something decidedly old-school — buckets near and drives to the rim — that kept the Pacers ahead all night. They didn’t pull away till the last two minutes, but they never lost control because the paint was their own personal ATM. Shoutout to DeShawn Stevenson!

Shoutout to Kevin Knox. 35 respectable rookie minutes.

The Knicks went back to the zone defense after succeeding wildly with it in the Charlotte comeback. The Pacers are...not the Hornets.

Then again, people struggle with simpler challenges. This didn’t happen tonight, but it doesn’t matter. Some things are timeless from the very first time you see them.

The Knicks kept on keeping on.

But in close games, these sequences are killers.

More keeping on.

The Knicks really missed Robinson’s shot-blocking. The Pacers were proactive and prolific in the paint.

It was tied as late as 81-81, before the Pacers put it away. Some nights just aren’t your nights. Sometimes it just be’s that way, papi.

Seven wins in a row for the Pacers. The Knicks lost ‘cuz they got bossed down low, couldn’t hit threes and couldn’t hit free throws. There’s your synopsis. Recap to come.