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Scenes from all scoring and no stopping in a wasted DiVincenzo career game

Pacers 140, Knicks 126: Hali dishes 23 dimes and the Pacers make 23 threes to spoil a 38-point performance by DiVo and 28 apiece from Randle and Brunson

New York Knicks v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

On a day when homegrown Knickerbockers Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett were sent to the Toronto Raptors in exchange for OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa, and Malachi Flynn, the New York Knicks (17-15) played a game against the Indiana Pacers (17-14). The contest felt almost like an afterthought in light of the day’s bombshell, and it provided a few clues as to why New York made today’s changes.

On the day after the Knicks were steamrolled by the Orlando Magic, they played a reunion match with former Knick Obi Toppin. It’s always nice to run into an ex who seems content with their new situation.

On the eve before New Year’s Eve, Donte DiVincenzo set a new career-high of 38 points and added six rebounds, four steals, and a block while making 15 of 21 field goals and seven of 11 three-pointers. Alas, it was all for naught. See, the Pacers have this kid named Haliburton, and tonight he scored over 20 points and 20 assists for his second straight game. Tied a franchise record with 23 dimes in a game. Kinda special.

Oh, sure, the Knicks shot a very respectable 16-of-36 from beyond the arc tonight, but with Indiana drilling 23-of-42 from deep—plus outscoring the Knicks 41-30 in the third quarter—our short-handed heroes were sans prayer. Final score, 140-123. Went like this.

First Half

What a difference 24 hours can make. Last night the Knicks were mired in Florida quicksand. Tonight, they had wings on their heels like Hermes!

Okay, not quite, but in the first quarter, they certainly showed marked improvements on both ends of the floor. They played swarming defense that stymied the rocket-powered Pacers and circulated the ball with nerve and verve en route to a nine-point advantage.

Blink and the Pacers can catch up, and so they did. In the latter half of the period, the Hoosiers rallied, and—thanks to multiple point-blank misses and five turnovers (again!) by New York—Indy finshed the quarter ahead 32-27.

Short two players, Thibs reached deeper down his bench tonight. In Q1, Evan Fournier made his first appearance since November 17, and missed four rusty three-point attempts. To be fair, he had only played one other time this season. In the second quarter Evan swished his first triple of the 2023-24 campaign. Take note, potential trade partners!

Deuce McBride made his 20th appearance of the season, but only five times before did he play more than five minutes. As you’d expect, McBride had a few off-balanced moments, a couple fouls, and shied away from an open look or two, but all things considered, I was happy to see him in action again. Interestingly, Thibs used Miles as a shooting guard for a long stretch of second-quarter, as he shared the floor with Jalen Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo, Julius Randle, and Isaiah Hartenstein.

Julius Randle seemed to derive some pleasure from targeting Obi Toppin, and I assume he did. The Pacers had no answer for Julius, who bullied his way to 15 first-half points. When necessary, he made the quick pass—like so:

DiVincenzo added 15 points, too, plus three steals. He had shot 3-of-4 from deep and was fully recovered from whatever funk afflicted him last night. Fellow Villanova Wildcat Josh Hart was a rebounding dervish, collecting eight boards to go with seven points. Thanks to a team effort, the Knicks were down only 64-62 at halftime.

Over the first two quarters, New York had shot 47% from the field and 50% from deep, making nine triples; Indy had shot 60% and 50%, making ten treys. The Knicks had won the glass, 24-18, and second-chance points, 14-4; the Pacers had won the points in the paint, 28-26, and, as expected, were ahead on fast-break points, 11-8.

Bennedict Mathurin led the Pacers with 13 points, and Tyrese Haliburton already had 12 assists. Your halftime shot chart:

Second Half

The Knicks took a brief lead within the first minutes of the third quarter. Twas but a dream. The Pacers applied the gas, Hali kept dishing, and Indy galloped off to their biggest lead up until then, a 16-point advantage. Their success wasn’t so much due to the Knicks playing badly, just excellent shooting: through three quarters, Indiana had made 18 of their 33 three-point attempts (55%).

Speaking of not missing, DiVincenzo was having one of his best games yet as a Knick—and as a pro. He would finish with a career-high 38 points.

After surrendering 41 points in the third, the Knicks entered the final quarter down 105-92. They traded buckets and gained no ground. With seven and a half minutes to go, Deuce hit a hesitating corner three to bring New York within 12, but Mathurin responded with a bucket and Randle missed two of three freebies. Donte added to his career-high, but then Jalen Brunson traveled and fouled Haliburton on a three-point play. One step forward, two steps back.

Midway through the final frame, Haliburton dished his 20th assist on a Myles Turner three-pointer. DiVo answered with five points, and Turner hit another. The differential was ten points with about two minutes left, but the Knicks weren’t about to start making stops this late in the evening.

As Haliburton was seranaded with MVP chants, this game drifted off into a balmy Indianapolis night, and the Knicks turned their thoughts toward home.

Up Next

The Minnesota Timberwolves will visit Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks in a New Year’s Day matinee. Word is that OG and Precious will be available to play, and New York will need them against Ant, KAT, and their furry cohorts. Until we meet again, have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve, Knicks family.

Your Knicks box score.