The Indiana Pacers came into Madison Square Garden with the 2nd ranked offense in the month of November per Cleaning the Glass. They scored a paltry 84 points Monday night against the New York Knicks, a season low.
Indiana went deep early, running a 10 man rotation in the first quarter, but couldn’t keep pace with the Knicks’ bench units. New York’s bench outscored Indy’s 44-13 and Immanuel Quickley, Taj Gibson, and Alec Burks all contributed heavily to their closing stretch to oust the Pacers.
The two buoys of Pacer bench units in the past two weeks struggled mightily from the field, with TJ McConnell really struggling to find his footing in the halfcourt. He shot 1 of 8 and routinely found difficulty driving into the teeth of the defense. His production, or lack thereof, was indicative of the Pacers offensive stagnancy, as he finished with just one assist. Credit to the Knicks’ defense, but a lack of cohesion on the offensive end was palpable most of the night.
Kelan Martin had some bright moments attacking off secondary actions, but was frigid from 3. The Pacers shot 8 of 37 from deep overall with 5 of those makes coming from Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon.
Sabonis feasted on the glass and his activity was fantastic as he guarded Julius Randle for much of the night. His individual offense bailed out the Pacers multiple times as he kept possessions alive.
The starting backcourt individually had good games; Malcolm Brogdon shot fairly well from the field and finished with 22/8/7. Caris LeVert shot poorly from the field but drew contact incredibly well, taking 7 trips to the foul line and converting on all of them. Especially late, as the Pacers only scored a putrid 10 points in the final quarter, the offense died down into a herky jerky “my turn your turn” affair. In tandem with an extremely poor shooting night as a team, the last 12 minutes was a redundancy of clanked jumpers and frustrating misses around the rim.
Domantas Sabonis missed a layup off of a catch and drive with some beautiful footwork in the paint to get skinny around a defender. That play signified much of the game for Indy.
Myles Turner was impactful defensively, as is a given, but the Pacers greatly missed his offensive aggression. He took 4 shots total, making just one 3, and corralled 3 rebounds as well. A disappointing game after a torrid month on both ends from Turner. While tonight doesn’t take away from Turner’s recent stretch, it’s certainly a tougher way for it to end than envisioned.
Indiana started to find answers over the past 7 games, but they now face even more questions that will require more problem-solving after tonight. The Pacers fall to 6-9 on the season and look to bounce back against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.