The Indiana Pacers took care of business and defeated a depleted New York Knicks team 115-97 that was without Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. While that may not be too impressive to many, it’s important to get wins against non-elite teams whenever you can. It’s especially vital to beat those teams when they are down.
The Knicks never led in this game. In fact, they only tied the score three times with the last occurrence being when the score was 13-13 at the 6:52 mark of the first quarter. From that point on, the Pacers held an 18-6 advantage to close the opening quarter, and that put them on top 31-19 heading into the second quarter.
Indiana followed up their impressive first quarter performance by outscoring New York by a 35-21 margin in the second quarter. Even though it was against a shorthanded Knicks team, having a double-digit point differential in this particular time frame was necessary for the Pacers as they rank 25th in the league in second-quarter net rating.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, and Indiana even went up by as much as 38 points. In fact, the Pacers held a 95-65 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic was the only starter for the Pacers to play at all in the final quarter because the game was too out of reach for the Knicks. The night ended with the Pacers winning and 115-97 being the final score.
Thaddeus Young led the team in scoring and a good overall performance. He had 20 points, six rebounds, one assist, two steals, and two turnovers in 27 minutes. Something that I found interesting was that Young had recorded three games this season with at least 20 points and that is just two short of the total that he had last season.
Bojan Bogdanovic had an impressive night with 19 points, two rebounds, two assists, and a steal in 29 minutes. He was brought in to be an efficient jump shooter, and he has done precisely that. For reference, he is currently generating 1.169 points per possession, and that ranks first in the NBA among all players that have logged at least 250 possessions.
Victor Oladipo didn’t have his best of statistical performances, but he wasn’t needed to carry the load. He ended the night with 16 points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal, two blocks, and four turnovers in 30 minutes. Consistency has been a staple for Oladipo as a scorer. As Pat Boylan recently tweeted, the only players who haven’t scored fewer than 14 points in a game this season are LeBron James, James Harden, Blake Griffin, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Victor Oladipo.
Myles Turner took care of business with 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, and three turnovers in 25 minutes. I wrote in my inaugural column for the Kokomo Tribune that he has outperformed his current role and should receive more involvement in their offense. In his past five games, he is averaging 16.2 points per game while shooting 57.1% from the field, 37.5% on 3-pointers, and 91.7% on free throws.
Darren Collison produced 10 points, four rebounds, ten assists, three steals, and two blocks in 26 minutes. This game marked his fifth double-double of the season, and that is already the most double-doubles that he has produced in a single-season since he had 14 as a rookie in 2009-10.
Domantas Sabonis generated 12 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, and five turnovers in 24 minutes. While it wasn’t his most efficient of performances, it was better than the five points he was averaging on 28.6% shooting from the field in his past two games. It’s also worth mentioning that Sabonis now has seven double-doubles this season but had only two all of last season.
Cory Joseph had a bounce-back performance with 12 points, one rebound, four assists, and a steal in 22 minutes. He was severely struggling as a scorer lately before this game. For reference, in his past six games before this match-up with the Knicks, he was averaging only 4.7 points per game while shooting 28.1% from the field and 30.8% on 3-pointers.
Lance Stephenson didn’t have his best game, but he still put up nine points, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two turnovers in 29 minutes. In his past six games, he is averaging an impressive 13.8 points (59.3% FG, 52.6% 3P, 90% FT), 5.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.2 blocks, and 2.3 turnovers in 25.9 minutes off the bench.
Considering how Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. were both inactive and it was a blowout loss, I don’t think there is much value in diving deeper into the individual performances by the Knicks. Their individual contributions would be considered outliers for a few main reasons. They had a few solid performances, but nobody was spectacular.
The main difference between the performances by each team was Indiana’s far superior offensive efficiency across the board. The Pacers shot an impressive 46-of-86 (53.5%) from the field, 11-of-26 (42.3%) on 3-pointers, and 12-of-15 (80%) on free throws. Their shooting efficiency was better by 9.5% from the field, 16.2% on 3-pointers, and 11.2% on free throws.
Indiana was dominant with their transition offense. They had 31 fast break points and outscored the Knicks by 26 in this category. A significant factor that contributed to that was the fact that the Pacers had ten steals compared to four by New York, which means that they had more favorable opportunities to push the pace in transition. Also, Indiana ended up scoring 26 points off turnovers and had a positive scoring differential of eight points in this area.
An area that the Knicks had potential to take advantage of was in second-chance scoring, but they failed to do that. Despite New York grabbing 15 offensive rebounds compared to seven by the Pacers, the Knicks scored only 15 second-chance points, and that was just five more than Indiana. Regardless, their overall scoring efficiency was far too inefficient to overcome.
The Indiana Pacers improved to 13-11 on the season and are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference. It was an important win because the New York Knicks will likely be fighting with them for a playoff spot. For now, the Knicks have an 11-12 record and are tied for ninth in the East. Indiana’s next matchup is on Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls, and that marks the second game of their six-game homestand.