The Indiana Pacers led 99-91 early in the fourth quarter, successfully weathering a Carmelo Anthony three point barrage at the end of the third, but they weren’t able to weather a second storm of three pointers, with Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis hitting three apiece in the fourth to turn an eight point deficit into what would be a nine point lead.
The Pacers played well in stretches, including jumping ahead by 15 in the third quarter, but in the end the game was decided on three point shooting, with the Knicks hitting 13 to Indiana’s six. Whether the three point struggles could be attributed to fatigue on the second night of a back-to-back, the fact is the Knicks made shots and the Pacers didn’t.
It was the first win of the season for the Knicks where they’d trailed after three quarters, a predictable end result for a Pacers team that remains charitable in moments where they can finally seize control of their season. Instead, they drop to 15-15, at .500 for the 13th time this season, still not having won three games in a row.
While the Pacers faded in the fourth, outscored 34-24, shooting just 3-16 after starting to the quarter with four straight makes. Paul George in particular made no impact in the fourth quarter, going 0-4 from the floor to finish with 16 while Anthony had 29 second half points as part of his 35 with seven three pointers.
It’s easy to look at the George/Anthony matchup and see that’s where the game was lost for the Pacers, but many other matchups went south for the Pacers in the second half, despite big games from a number of other players. Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young each had 21, splitting time on Porzingis, but it was Porzingis who came up late with his three fourth quarter threes, finishing with 21.
Likewise, the point guard battle also shifted towards the Knicks when Derrick Rose came up big in the second half, finishing with 24 points, topping the 17 point, 12 assist night from Jeff Teague. The Knicks as a team shot 50%, and with 64 second half points, the Pacers weren’t equipped to lose all of their matchups.
Even the team’s biggest advantage of the night; Al Jefferson going to work on Kyle O’Quinn, wasn’t revisited much in the second half. Jefferson scored 14 points in six minutes of work on O’Quinn in the first half, but Indiana took advantage of the matchup only once after that as Jefferson finished with 18.
The loss makes for the third in their last four road games where they took a lead into the fourth quarter. At 4-11 on the road, the Pacers continue to take away from their own separation in an otherwise airtight Eastern Conference. After 30 games, it’s safe to say what the Pacers are with or without Monta Ellis, and without a roster shakeup, the Pacers won’t become anything more than a team that responds well to bad losses.
The Pacers will have another chance to return to a game above .500 before Christmas when they host the Boston Celtics on Thursday. The Celtics sit in third place in the East, but at just two games above the 8th seed Pacers, the opportunity is alive and well for Indiana despite the constant frustration in the team’s night-to-night execution.