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Knicks 123, Pacers 119: Nate Comes Up Big

Pretty much sums it up.
(AP: Kathy Willens)

Nate Robinson torched the Indiana Pacers for a season-high 41 points to push the New York Knicks to a 123-119 W at Madison Square Garden.

This game had equal parts strange, ugly, wild and fun. Oh, and plenty of frustration for the Pacers in the final minute of the game.

Ugly made an appearance for both teams throughout the game, but it teamed up with strange in the first quarter when two teams that love to push the pace struggled mightily to push the ball in the basket. After one quarter, the Knicks were up 23-20 and early in the second quarter Clark Kellogg captured the quality of play perfectly when he said, "At some point an NBA game is going to break out here."

From that point on, some NBA caliber scoring broke out big time. Defense? Er, not so much. But the wild offensive fireworks at both ends made for an excicting game over the final three quarters. There were crazy numbers from unexpected sources as the Pacers scrapped for all 48 minutes while playing without Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy as expected, but also minus T.J. Ford. Ford and Marquis Daniels arrived in New York battling a virus. Quisy obviously felt much better since he played heavy minutes.

The desperate team effort from the Pacers couldn't sneak a W out of the Garden, though, when no one was able to make a play, or even a play to get to the play, late in the game.

After Jarrett Jack put the Pacers up 119-117 with 1:01 left, Nate Robinson drew a foul at the hoop and tied the game at the line. The Pacers went the other way and Brandon Rush's shot was blocked and then deflected out of bounds with 4 seconds left on the shot clock and 30 in the game.

On the baseline, Jeff Foster couldn't find anyone to inbounds the ball to, so he called a timeout leaving the Pacers with one. After the timeout, the Pacers spread the floor as they did on the first failed attempt, with Jack and Troy Murphy trying to screen each other. No one was open and then Marquis Daniels zigged when Foster thought he would zag and Foster lobbed the ball right into the hands of Nate Robinson who took it the other way to put the Knicks up 121-119.

Why did the Pacers run the exact same inbounds play twice in a row? Especially with Jack appearing to be option one while being covered by Robinson who could play DB in the NFL. The execution was as bad as the play and when Troy Murphy traveled on the next possession, the valiant effort by the Pacers fell hard in the loss column.

Plenty of individual thoughts from this one:

  • First, Nate Robinson's 41 points seemed like 60. I think that's because he scored 32 in the second half and most of those whenever the Knicks needed a bucket.
  • When the Pacers needed a bucket, Jarrett Jack came to the rescue. He also had a big second half and whenever the Pacers started falling behind, Jack was there to make a big bucket and swing the momentum. Jack finished with a career-high 33 points on 11-19 shots. The guy loves the Garden.
  • Marquis Daniels joined Rush in laying it all on the line tonight. The two aren't perfect as their combined nine turnovers reveals, but you can't question the effort. Daniels was under the weather and came up with 28 points in 42 minutes. At one point in the second half, Quisy was unstoppable.
  • Troy Murphy pitched in another huge night, finishing with 19 points and 21 rebounds. His counterpart for the Knicks, David Lee had 20 points and 13 rebounds. I had to chuckle a couple of times as both players were able to take the other on a long, slow drive to the hoop for a layup. They were like floats in a parade gliding down Main Street. I half expected Nate to be hanging on Lee's back throwing beads to the crowd.
  • Brandon Rush played 33 minutes and played real well in the second half after struggling out of the gate in a starting role. Rush finished with 14 points and 5 rebounds and finally made a couple of layups after missing a couple early. Must've helped seeing Nate Robinson finish several acrobatic drives by flipping the ball up at the rim and getting the role. Nate was willing those balls in where on Brandon's misses he seems to be begging.
  • Roy Hibbert had...wait for it...foul trouble all night. Roy fouled out after only playing 15:45 and is now clearly fighting a foul-prone reputation. There's plenty of contact underneath the hoop every trip down, but when Roy is in the mix the whistle always blows. I'm not saying the fouls aren't legit, but some of the contact is garden variety stuff at the hoop. Tonight I'm thinking of his fifth foul in particular. Oh well, in the long run it well force Roy to learn, adjust and develop.
  • Al Harrington had a big game for the Knicks, making a lot of big buckets when Robinson wasn't killing the Pacers. Al finished with 27 points.
  • The game may not have been so close late in the fourth if it wasn't for the Knicks missing free throws. they were 20-34 on the night and missed six freebies in the final 6:20 of the game. Nate Robinson stepped up to make six in a row as he poured in the final eight points for the Knicks and closed out the W.