Mike Miller’s Knicks gave it everything they had, playing like a bunch of bulldogs in this one. New York opened the game playing one of its most impressive first halves of the season. They scored 60 points due to fluid ball movement, proper spacing, smart shot selection, and a very noticeable uptick in pace and tempo. The Knicks only shot 4-13 from three (30.8%), missing open shots that could’ve easily added to their 60 point 1st Half. Indiana countered the Knicks, finishing the 1st Half with 66 points and a 6 point lead. Indiana shot the lights out, shooting 58.7% from the floor and 42.9% from three. Both Head Coaches clearly addressed their defenses during half time. In the 2nd half, New York outscored Indiana 43-38 in a defensive war. There were no easy baskets in the 2nd Half, with the Pacers shooting 35.9% from the floor and the Knicks shooting 31.9%. The Knicks tallied 8 steals and 5 blocks in the final 2 quarters. The Pacers responded with 4 steals and 7 blocks (5 from Myles Turner) of their own. It was a real grind-it-out kind of half, with the pace dropping from 104 in the first to 96.93 in the 2nd Half. Both teams clogged the paint, only surrendering a combined 28 points in the paint in the 2nd Half (IND-12, NYK-16). Both teams scored over 28 points in the paint, respectively, in the 1st Half! The final stretch of basketball included a 5-shot, 47-second possession for the Knicks, who failed to score and Julius Randle missing the game tying free throw with 0.1 seconds remaining. The Pacers and Knicks shot a combined 1-23 in the last 4 minutes and 30 seconds of the game. Indiana failed to score a point in the final 5 minutes and 17 seconds of the game! Indiana got great play from T.J. Waren (25 points), Domantas Sabonis (19 points and 15 rebounds), Doug McDermott (16 points), and Myles Turner (5 blocks, all in the 2nd Half). The Knicks were led by Marcus Morris Sr. (25 points), Julius Randle (16 points and 12 rebounds), Mitchell Robinson (14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, and 3 blocks), and Elfrid Payton (9 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals).
Pacers 104, Knicks 103— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) December 8, 2019
Knicks now 4-19 — NBA's worst record
Julius Randle misses a potential game-tying FT with 0.1 seconds left. The Knicks are the worst FT shooting team in NBA and lose Mike Miller's debut as interim coach.
Marcus Morris with 25 points.https://t.co/0Pz97qoywT pic.twitter.com/sAHpuT9cLk
Why The Knicks Lost
The Knicks lost this game because of their 1st half defense and shooting the ball at a low percentage all evening. Defensively in the 1st Half, the Knicks played with grit and brought the intensity, they were just a little late on some rotations. You also have to tip your hat to the Pacers, who knocked down many tough shots. Clearly this was an issue that could be fixed, as the Knicks adjusted after the break and were fantastic defensively in the 2nd Half. New York’s poor shooting from inside the three-point line, has plagued them all season. This included to be the case in this game, shooting just 40.6% from the field. The Knicks missed many shots in this one that were very makeable, moving the ball and working to get open looks at the basket. Although their shooting is concerning, it is bound to improve at some point (whether that be improvements from the roster or to the roster).
New York’s future looked a lot brighter after this game. After firing Fizdale, the Knicks appeared to have nothing going for them. This game was a sign of life and hope for the Knicks. They turned the corner defensively and the offense looked much better. Miller’s adjustments and Morris Sr.’s players-only meeting, seemed to have had a major, positive, impact. December 15th is less than a week away and reinforcements may be in the cards for the Knicks to improve their shooting woes. Whether New York makes any major changes to its roster or not, the team seems to be trending in the right direction for the first time all season and is playing a much better brand of basketball.