In last night’s game between the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers, the Knicks were up 89-86 at home with 5.2 seconds left in the game when shooting guard Iman Shumpert fouled Pacers forward Paul George while in the act of shooting a three pointer, which he missed. George, however, did not miss any of his three free throws, forcing the game into overtime and ultimately resulting in an overtime win for the Pacers, 103-96.
In a season peppered with disappointment, injuries, trade rumors, and the possibility of finding a new coach, the Knicks may have very well experienced their most devastating loss of the season last night. After that game, the Knicks’s record fell to 3-8, and they have lost six straight home games. Despite phenomenal performances from Carmelo Anthony (30 points, 18 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks), Beno Udrih (19 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, 8-15 shooting), and J.R. Smith (21 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals), the Knicks couldn’t manage to keep the lead that they established after the half and in the final ten seconds of the game.
What made this loss so crushing was that it was so close. You could see the amount of effort many of the Knicks’ players had on both ends of the floor, outrebounding the Pacers 52-49. Six players played 36 minutes or more, including long-time veterans Kenyon Martin and Beno Udrih, both of whom played 38 minutes. The Knicks have suffered some bad losses this season against middle of the road competition, including the Charlotte Bobcats, the Detroit Pistons, and the Atlanta Hawks. But the Pacers? They have the best record in the Eastern Conference (better than Miami or Chicago) and the #1 ranked overall defense. Paul George is turning into a superstar, and Roy Hibbert may very well win Defensive Player of the Year. The Knicks had this win in their grasp, and a win over the toughest competition would have elevated their spirits and shown that they still have a chance of making a splash in the playoffs this season. After the loss, it seemed as though the Knicks need to make some serious changes if they want to contend.
The Knicks will probably still make the playoffs because of the weakness of competition in the Eastern Conference as well as the myriad of teams tanking in order to get the best draft picks. The Knicks do not have any first round picks in the 2014 draft, so missing the playoffs this year would make the whole season a complete waste, and not being a contender certainly doesn’t help the Knicks’ case if they want to re-sign Carmelo Anthony this offseason. The Knicks are in serious trouble, and their upcoming road schedule against Washington, Portland, the Clippers, and Denver will likely prove to be incredibly tough for them. Things don’t look good in New York, and the team we see now will not likely be the same team we see in April.
GIF via @CJZero