The Knicks returned home after their longest road trip in some time.
In your ideal world, you would have liked to see them come out with an inspired effort against the Pacers…one where they reached a new level of activity and effort on defense and where they moved the ball and hunted for easy shots on offense.
Yeah…not so much. New York dropped this one 121-106. Like a lot of nights this year, they kept it close for a while, actually taking the lead midway through the second quarter, before Indiana exerted itself and put the game away. The lead never ballooned to anything over 21, but there was also no doubt who was winning this game.
It’s not that they didn’t play hard – they did, for the most part – and it’s not like they took terrible shots – they tied their season high with 39 three-point attempts – but this team just doesn’t have enough talent to stay in games against most teams on a nightly basis.
Other than Noah Vonleh, who once again stood out on both ends, the only other Knicks to really show out was Mario Hezonja. He was active on both ends, and even though he couldn’t buy a bucket (4-for-12, 10 points), he finished with five steals and once again looked comfortable. Maybe we all gave up on him too soon.
Emmanuel Mudiay was perhaps the worst Knick in the first half, going scoreless, but like he’s done in several games this season, he bounced back and had a nice second half on offense, finishing with 21 points. Damyean Dotson looked good, and may have busted out of his shooting slump (4-for-7, 3-of-5 from deep, 15 points). Lance Thomas got some minutes at center with Kanter and Mitch still out, and was active as usual on defense.
Knox had a rough game for most of the evening, but finished with some nice moves late to remind fans that this will be a season of ups and downs for the teenager. Tim Hardaway left the game in the 4th with a hamstring injury.
Overall, as the Knicks now officially embark on the second half of the season, David Fizdale must, even if by smoke and mirrors, start to try and give this team an identity on both ends. They take a decent amount of threes and get both to the line and the rim at a respectable rate, but it’s time to try and put a little more in place than we’ve seen. On defense, several players have been given long leashes. We need to start seeing something in the way of results.
Knicks are back in action Sunday against the Sixers, who have treated New York like a rented mule this year. The journey continues…