Yesterday's game at New York was a reminiscent of the classic Pacers vs. Knicks game from a few years back. I was expecting Reggie to come out at any time and drop a three from downtown to win the game. The teams constantly battled back in forth for the lead throughout the game. In fact, up until the final minutes of the game, the greatest lead in the second half was only 3 points. So what happened?
Although the game was not televised locally, I did get to watch the Knicks broadcast of the game. I throughly enjoyed the first 38 minutes of the game. However, in typical fashion, O'Brien made a substitution change 2 minutes into the 4th quarter that would ultimately change the fate of the game. For those of you who didn't get to watch or hear the games, here is what happened.
The 4th quarter opened with Ford, Rush, Dunleavy, Posey, and Hibbert. It is not the greatest of line-ups but I could deal with it knowing that this group would not be playing the entire quarter. At the 10 min minute mark, Hibbert picked up his 2nd foul of the game. O'Brien apparently was not happy with him committing his second foul so he chose to bring in Foster who already had four fouls. He also subbed in Granger in place of Dunleavy. Now the Pacers have Ford, Rush, Granger, Posey, and Foster on the floor. This group would continue to play together until the 4:26 mark. My thought at the time was, "This is the worst line-up ever." I kept asking myself, "Why are these five guys playing together? Is Collison ever going to get back into the game? Were's McRoberts?" Finally a substitution was made and I regrettably found myself having to retract my "worst line-up ever" statement. Now the Pacers have Ford, Collison, Granger, Posey, and Foster on the court. (I only wish I was joking!) And on top that, Foster was now playing with 5 fouls. With 3 minutes and 33 seconds left in the game, O'Brien is forced to make a change. Foster had fouled out of the game with the Pacers down by one point. I'm thinking, "Great, bring back Hibbert, McRoberts, and Rush, and put this game away." But no. Instead, O'Brien replaced only Foster...with Solo. Once again, I found myself having to retract my previous "worst line-up ever" statement. This line-up had Posey guarding Stoudemire. Even Posey had to think that that was a bad idea as he watched Stoudemire score on him not once, but twice in a row. O'Brien didn't like what we saw and called for a timeout. He replaced Ford with Rush, but that was it. Collison scored a basket, but Posey promptly got scored on again by Stoudemire. With 35.9 seconds left, the Knicks' lead was 5 when O'Brien calls for another timeout. This time he replaced Solo with Hibbert, but it was too little too late. (Thanks coach!) Hibbert played a total of 17 seconds before O'Brien decided that he had had enough of Hibbert and replaced him once again with Solo. Believe me...I cannot make this stuff up even if I tried. Knicks made a free-throw to extend the lead to 6 with only 18.9 seconds to play. Pacers committed a turnover, and then the game was over.
That's it folks. Grant it, the Pacers shot poorly in the final quarter (15 points), but with the line-ups that were employed, what more should be expected? Hibbert and McRoberts got demoted from their starting positions and were hardly used in the last quarter (McRoberts never made it on the floor). What is going on? Can someone give us a rational explanation for why O'Brien should still have a job after this game?