The New York Knicks looked quite familiar as they came out from the opening tip attacking the Indiana Pacers at both ends of the floor to win the first game of the home-and-home series, 115-100. Yes, the Knicks were quite active on defense, knocked the Pacers back on their heels and then the blue and gold body language drooped and this game was over in a hurry.
The Knicks brought back memories of the Indiana Pacers last season after Jim O'Brien stepped down and the fresh start under Frank Vogel lit a fire and improved the Pacers effort at both ends of the floor. Mike Woodson has the attention of his guys and with a coaching change there is a natural shift in responsibility to the players, so effort was never a problem for the Knicks.
Meanwhile the Pacers exposed their bad habit of slipping into hang-dog mode at both ends of the floor when things bog down offensively with the top dogs Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert leading the droopy dauber brigade.
The Pacers were down 24-14 after one quarter thanks to a late three-pointer by George Hill but the foundation for the blowout was set. Indiana shot made just 5 of 22 shots (22.7%) in the first quarter and turned the ball over six times.
The Knicks brought a physical brand of ball to the Garden which is also anti-D'Antoni and the Pacers couldn't match the physicality. As is often the case, the aggressor gets the 50-50 balls and often the better end of the whistles. The Pacers also dealt with early foul trouble with David West and Danny Granger collecting three early fouls each. But in the end it didn't matter.
The Pacers made one viable run toward the end of the first half and cut the New York lead to 12 but the Knicks finished the half with a 7-0 run to take a 19 point lead to the break. The Pacers then promptly gave up 38 points in the third quarter to turn the game into a garbage-time run. So don't let the final score or the Pacers 42 points in the fourth quarter fool you. The Knicks simply didn't need all four quarters to beat the Pacers.
That's enough for this game. I think I've officially exceeded the effort the Pacers gave in this game. Hopefully, they'll be upset, embarrassed, surly or all of the above when they take the floor on Saturday night in a sold out Bankers Life Fieldhouse. They can't play much worse but the Pacers will need to play much, much better to get past the Knicks on Saturday.
In closing, long-time game commenter Gwen summed up the game perfectly...in the second quarter. So I'll let Gwen have the last say.
Pacers playing sucky
And knicks in the ‘our coach quit so we're going to play hard in a show of solidarity for at least a week' mode