The loss of T.J. Warren appeared to affect the Indiana Pacers immediately as they put up their worst shooting night of the year, getting completely outclassed by the New York Knicks on both ends of the floor. The Pacers went scoreless for nearly 4:30 to close the game, allowing the Knicks to run off 11 straight after going ahead 96-93.
Indiana struggled all night to match energy with the Knicks while an equal inability to hit shots consistently allowed New York to thrive in a back-and-forth game. New York honed in on Domantas Sabonis this time around, which opened up things for Indiana behind the arc. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to hit threes at a high enough rate to pull the defense out.
Malcolm Brogdon was the only lights out threat for Indiana early, scoring 17 points in the first quarter on 6-6 shooting with four made threes. His first quarter effort gave Indiana the lead heading into the second, one they would narrowly hold for much of the second. When the Knicks went ahead 44-43, Victor Oladipo took it upon himself to attack the rim, shooting 11 free throws in the final three minutes of the half, but it was still only enough to give Indiana a one point lead at the break.
The third quarter didn’t do the Pacers any favors, as the Knicks jumped out to a double figure lead on a 16-5 run. The Pacers, to their credit, managed to muster up enough shooting from Brogdon, Justin Holiday, and Myles Turner to slowly climb back into the game, heading into the fourth tied 82-82.
The same issues Indiana had been having all night continued into the fourth. Oladipo, despite not making a shot from the field to that point, drove the offense, and the rebounding and rim protection were non-existent, allowing the Knicks to score whenever they needed to.
Oladipo’s first basket from the field tied the game at 92-92 halfway through the quarter and he followed it up with a layup to put Indiana ahead. He found Sabonis on the following play to push the lead to three, but that would be all she wrote for the Pacers, who missed their next seven shots and turned it over three times, including a Mitchell Robinson block on a Brogdon three point attempt for good measure.
Brogdon and Oladipo both hit a pair of garbage time threes to make the final score 106-102, but it was too little, too late for a team that was a step slow in every single facet of the game all night. The biggest culprits to the loss was in Indiana’s rebounding, where they were dominated on the glass 51-32. That resulted in 10 offensive rebounds for the Knicks, leading to 13 second chance points.
All but one of those baskets came in the paint, where the Knicks again controlled the game, outscoring the Pacers 56-26. New York’s decision to fight inside on defense paid dividends, holding Indiana under 50% in the paint after the first quarter, including a 4-8 shooting night from Sabonis.
The decision to hold down the paint opened up the three point shot to be the difference for the Pacers and they came up short far too often, going 19-50 for the game, many of the misses coming on good looks that just wouldn’t go down. Brogdon finished with 33 points, shooting 7-10 from deep while Holiday went 4-5 for his 12.
Sabonis made his lone attempt, leaving the rest of the team to shoot 7-35, including a 3-9 night from Turner and a pair of 2-9 finishes for Oladipo and Doug McDermott. Aaron Holiday would blank on his five attempts. Oladipo in particular had a tough night shooting the ball, missing his first 11 attempts from the floor, but continuing to look to take charge on the offensive end.
It was a frustrating microcosm of Indiana’s night as a whole, not only in the inability to score with regularity, but also in their inability to get stops. They allowed the Knicks to shoot over 50% for the game and a tidy 12-27 from deep, including a breakout performance from RJ Barrett, who had missed 20 straight threes heading into the game.
The Pacers drop to 4-2 with the loss, a particularly tough one to take one, as they head into a far tougher schedule with nine straight game against Western Conference opponents over the next 19 days. That begins with a road game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday.