Knicks escape 0-2 disaster heading to Indiana
JAIME C. HARRIS Special to the AmNews | 5/23/2013, 4:26 p.m.
In a best-of-seven playoff series, each game takes on a life of its own.
This adage was illuminated Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, when the result of Game 2 was radically different from the outcome of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup between the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers.
The Knicks, facing an 0-2 deficit heading into Indianapolis for Game 3 on Saturday, outscored the Pacers by 33-13 in the fourth quarter to cruise to a 105-79 win and even the series at 1-1. A loud exhale could be heard throughout the arena, as quiet desperation was a significant theme prior to the victory.
A second consecutive loss to the Pacers at the Garden would have been devastating for the Knicks, a team that confidently expects to move on to the conference finals. The Pacers have glaring flaws, including a propensity to turn the ball over at a ridiculously high rate, as evidenced by their 37 turnovers in two games thus far.
But defeating them four out of five games--the task with which the Knicks would have been charged--was highly implausible. Now they merely need to win one of the next two in Indianapolis to regain the home court edge that was earned by being the No. 2 seed.
"Absolutely," responded Knicks center Tyson Chandler when asked if there was elevated urgency for the Knicks heading into Game 2. "You can't go down 0-2. You can't give away two home games. You're digging yourselves into a hole that is almost impossible to get out of. So we had to play with a sense of urgency."
For all the focus on Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith's offensive inefficiency, this postseason--particularly in Game 1 of the current series, when they shot a combined 14-43 in a 102-95 loss on Sunday--it was the Knicks allowing triple-digit points to a Pacers team that is offensively average at best that was most troubling.
Nevertheless, Anthony finally shook a long slump, scoring 32 points on 13-26 shooting in Game 2--somewhat halting the harsh analysis that was directed at him following Sunday's loss.
Anthony said he is unaffected by the chatter. "I don't play under pressure," he maintained after Game 2. "I don't allow myself to do that mentally."
The Knicks now head into Indiana seeking to put pressure on the Pacers.