Knicks get blown out and drop third straight; Are you concerned?
The Knicks defense was non-existent as the Pacers did almost anything they wanted on this night. The Pacers scored 44 second quarter points and led at the half 74-44. Paul George abused Knicks’ defenders all night and finished with 27 points on 11-19 shooting.
The biggest problem for the Knicks in this game was foul trouble. Now some will say there were questionable calls against the Knicks, but I think you’re continually putting the defense in compromising positions by asking Carmelo Anthony to guard power forwards. Now while Anthony actually picked up just one foul guarding David West, he was forced to the bench with 3 fouls in the 2nd quarter with still over 6 minutes remaining.
This was where the game turned from bad to worse. When Anthony left the court the Knicks were down 17. The Pacers then outscored the Knicks 28-15 to end the quarter. My biggest issue with removing your star player in this situation is exactly what happened. If you’re down 17 on the road you have to trust that your star player can be smart enough not to pick up another foolish foul before the half. Even if it means switching up the defense and having him guard someone else.
It’s easy to put any player on the bench with 3 fouls in the first half, especially when you need that player to help you win the game in the second half. However, in this situation I feel Mike Woodson failed his team by going by the book. Now you can say Woodson trusted the rest of his team to keep them in the game, and that’s fair to say. You just had to see the writing on the wall and the next 6 minutes ultimately ended the game.
If Melo stays on the court there’s no guarantee he picks up another foul. Let’s say he stayed on the court and the Knicks were able to stop the bleeding and only trail by 15 or less at the half--then you still have a basketball game in the second half. By taking Melo out as Woodson did, he essentially made the second half 24 minutes of meaningless basketball. The Knicks body language was terrible; they weren’t coming back down 30 even with Melo on the floor.
I would love to find out if Woodson was asked about that in the press conference. I think a coach has have a better feel for the game when making a decision like that. There’s a good chance in this game it wouldn’t have mattered regardless. I’d just be curious to see the last 6 minutes of the 2nd quarter had Anthony remained on the court. Even if he stayed on the court and played zero defense in trying to avoid another foul, could the Knicks have given up any more points than they did? 28 points in 6 and a half minutes is mind blowing.
After reaching a high-water mark of 16 games over .500, the Knicks have now lost 3 straight and face the most difficult second half schedule in the league. When you look at how close teams 2 through 6 are in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks are in danger of dropping down so far to where they may not even be guaranteed home court advantage in the first round.
The Knicks being the oldest team in the league, will be tested going forward with a schedule that consists of a lot of back-to-back games and very little rest. How they respond remains to be seen. You just have to question the mental make-up of this team when facing adversity. Can they silence their critics and overcome this brutal second half schedule? I believe their postseason success will be determined by how they finish the season. This team can ill-afford to limp into the playoffs without home court advantage in the first round.