Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
The “Knicks tank” continues to roll with full steam ahead
After a long six-game road trip, the New York Knicks finally returned home to Madison Square Garden. On the road, the Knicks only managed to win one game. That game was against a Los Angeles Lakers team who were without LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma, their two best players. The “Knicks tank” was alive and well on the West Coast, and the Indiana Pacers were waiting for its arrival at the world’s most famous arena last night.
Against the Pacers, the “Knicks tank” didn’t disappoint. Going into the game, the Knicks were without Mitchell Robinson (groin injury), Frank Ntilikina (ankle injury), and Enes Kanter, who sat out due to illness from eating too many burgers on his cheat day. Luckily for the Knicks, cheating isn’t a necessity to continuously lose games. Led by Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers defeated the Knicks 121-106.
Domantas Sabonis continues to dominate the Knicks at MSG
When Sabonis becomes a free agent, the Knicks brass should strongly consider signing him because he always seems to perform when he steps foot on the Garden floor. During the Pacers last visit to the Garden, Sabonis shot a perfect 12-of-12 from the field and dropped 30 points in a 107-101 Pacers win on Halloween. Last night, Sabonis wasn’t perfect like his previous performance, but his domination was clear for everyone to see. He finished with 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting, and he dominated the boards, grabbing 15 rebounds.
Victor Oladipo played a vital role in the Pacers win
While Sabonis dominated on the inside, Victor Oladipo dominated on the outside. Oladipo had a very efficient performance. He scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting, and as usual, he played solid defense on the perimeter. Statistically, Oladipo had an average performance, but the impact he made on the game was undeniable. When he was on the floor, the Pacers performed their best. Oladipo finished the game with a team-high +/- of 17.
The Pacers sealed the win with a dominant 12-0 run to end the first half
Every basketball game is a game of runs. Usually, with most games, there’s always one run that points to why a team was able to win the game. That run for the Pacers came late in the second quarter after the Knicks went on a 22-8 run to take a 46-45 lead. At the 5:22 mark, Tim Hardaway Jr. nailed a deep pull-up three to give the Knicks the one-point advantage. For the moment, it seemed like the Knicks were about to take over the game, but that wasn’t the case. Under the tutelage of Nate McMillan, the Pacers have developed a mental toughness that’s hard for most NBA teams to match. The Pacers used their mental toughness to lock the Knicks down defensively and regain their momentum.
With 2:13 remaining, Kevin Knox made a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52. Afterward, the Pacers went on a 12-0 run to end the first half. During those sequence of possessions, the Pacers played defense and grabbed defensive rebounds like clockwork. The Knicks were one-and-done on each offensive possession, and the Pacers responded each time with a basket. Also, to add insult to injury, after Bojan Bogdanovic dunked to give the Pacers a 64-52 lead with 5.3 seconds remaining, Darren Collison blocked Emmanuel Mudiay‘s 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Knicks bench performed well against the Pacers
Unfortunately, the Knicks were unable to recover from the Pacers two-minute beatdown to end the first half. Mudiay led all Knicks scorers with 21 points, but his scoring had a minimal impact on the game. Overall, the Pacers dominated the Knicks starting lineup. The players who truly made the difference for the Knicks came off the bench. Damyean Dotson and Trey Burke both played a vital role in the second quarter to help lead the Knicks back into the game. Dotson contributed with 15 points in 28 minutes, and Burke finished with 12 points in 26 minutes.
Where are the Knicks on the current Zion Williamson standings
Currently, in the tank for Zion Williamson standings, the Knicks are tied for third with the Chicago Bulls. Both teams boast a woeful record of 10-32 and trail the Phoenix Suns by half-a-game. Thankfully, the Knicks will be able to increase their chances at a top-3 pick on Sunday when the Philadelphia 76ers roll into town. Following a tough loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, the 76ers will be angry and willing to take out their frustrations on the struggling Knicks.
Don’t worry Knicks fans, the “Knicks tank” continues to travel on the road to Zion at a rapid pace.