This was an excellent outing for the Pacers — until the fourth quarter. The Pacers entered the final frame with a 9-point edge after Mike Dunleavy, Jr. made a heads-up steal and, instead of just heaving up a half-court prayer, had the piece of mind create a good three-point look for AJ Price to knock down a trey at the buzzer. This came just seconds after a nice bucket by Roy Hibbert. By using some relatively easy math that I only had to double-check thrice, that means the Pacers scored 5 points in the final 3 seconds of the third quarter.
In the next 720 seconds, Indiana would scored 13 total points. And what with New York dropping 23 in the final quarter, those of you following along with this math problem at home should realize that the Knicks won.
In addition to the mind-blowing offensive futility down the stretch — the Pacers didn’t score a single point in the final 3:30 of the game — the most glaring reason for the loss was Carmelo Anthony’s game-winning shot. The Knicks had the ball down one with 13 ticks to play. They isolated Melo on the wing. Despite some good positional defense by Danny Granger, Billups got the ball to Anthony. He wasted little time, took one quick dribble, rose up and stuck a dagger in Danny’s eye.
The Pacers had a chance to win, but Granger couldn’t get off clean look and his eerily-similar-to-his-last-game-winner-vs-New-York try was blocked by the aforementioned Melo. A few Pacers looked like they might be able to get a tip in but it didn’t work.
All of this was very dramatic, but as mentioned, it was the inability of the Pacers to convert on any of their 9 previous possessions that was the downfall. Worse than not just converting, Indiana turned the ball over on 5 of these chances. Even worse still was the Pacers penultimate possession of the game. Up 1 and coming out of a timeout with 39 seconds left, Darren Collison basically just dribbled around above the three-point line for the entire shotclock. They tried to run a useless pick-and-roll momentarily, but it eventually just turned into a Collison top-of-the-key iso on Billups. Darren herked and jerked a little bit, but Billups stuck right with him and DC put up one of the worst shots anyone attempted all day in the NBA.
Ultimately, this game doesn’t matter in the standings. The Pacers are in the playoffs and will be playing the Bulls. After the game, however, you could see just how disappointed the team was that they left this one slip away. The team had been on a good, confidence-building run prior to this loss. They still have a chance to enter the postseason on a positive note if they can knock off Orlando on Tuesday, but beating the Knicks for a third straight time down the stretch of the schedule likely would have done wonders for their collective mentality heading into the Bulls series.
Just another lost opportunity in a season full of em, I suppose.