Post-Game Grades: The Knicks Are Hilarious

Now THAT is a Pacers/Knicks game. Aside from the Pacers being basically terrible for two straight quarters in the middle of the game, you really can’t ask for anything more. We can get to the cajones, resiliency, hustle, will, refuse-to-lose mentality and all that.

But first … only 8 turnovers … 31 free-throw attempts … 16 offensive rebounds.

Those stats win ball games. The second one is particularly important for Indiana to highlight. They shoot well from the stripe (6th best at 77.7%) and get there a lot (3rd best in the league with 26.0 attempts per night). But on nights they fall in love with the jumper, they don’t force the action enough to get to the stripe. Tonight, in the fourth quarter, they lived at the line and the result was a 40-to-17 scoring edge in the final period. And when they can blend that with the type of timely three-point accuracy that Danny Granger showed? Yeah, they can pile up points in a hurry.

And as much as this was a great Pacers comeback, let’s not forget that it was an epic Knicks collapse. Indiana certainly seemed to be the team that took over, but New York just choked. By the time the regained their footing after playing most of the fourth looking like a wobbly-legged boxer who took a huge left hook to the temple early in round, and Carmelo started to pour it on again, it was too late. The Pacers small-ball bench — a brilliantly effective adjustment by coach Frank Vogel — had the injury-depleted Knicks straight lost. Amundson and Barbosa were really almost as big in this victory in little ways as Granger was in the big-time shot-making way. When he pulled out the Discount Double Check move after his second (or third?) three in the fourth quarter, the Pacers had the momentum of a space shuttle re-entry. And the Knicks just fell back to earth like the Challenger.

I feel like I have been saying this a lot lately, but that is obviously another candidate for best win of the season. Other than the Miami smack-around, the win in Dallas or the win in Chicago, I can’t recall one more important. Certainly not in the sense that this team needs all the confidence and positive reinforcement it can get heading into the playoffs. The stumbles against the Nets and even in Wizards games they’ve won have been disappointing — as was most of March.

But between this win, Sunday’s win in Houston and the nutty finish in the win in the nation’s capital two weeks ago are the types of games that really galvanize a team and teach them that they can win against anyone, anywhere and under any amount of adversity.

Of course, this being the 2011-12 compressed schedule, they play again tomorrow. And it’s again in DC.

To expect anything other than a chaotic finish would be silly.

Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at me (@8pts9secs) or Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.

David West, PF 24 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS
Didn’t make as much of an impact on the game as you would have liked when he started matched up against Knicks “power” forward Carmelo Anthony.
Danny Granger, 8-16 FG | 6-8 FT | 5-8 3PT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 27 PTS
He scored 14 of his 27 pts in the 4th quarter, including 3 huge treys. The first made the comeback seem real, cutting the lead to 6. The next tied it for the first time in ages. The third gave Indy the lead. He is now 11/16 (61.1%) from behind the arc in his last two thrilling Pacer wins.
Roy Hibbert, C 24 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS
Big fella sat out the best parts of this one. Vogel went with small ball and not even Roy can be at all upset with the results.
Darren Collison, PG 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS
Also didn’t play late as Hill/Barbosa/George/Granger were Vogel’s perimeter players of choice in winning time.
Paul George, SG 29 MIN | 5-12 FG | 8-10 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 18 PTS
The 10 FGAs is the most encouraging stat we’ve seen from George in some time. Led to 18 points on just 12 shots even without him making a single three. Very nice. Boards, too.

Dahntay Jones, SG 14 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 12 PTS
Stepped up huge, scoring at a 30.9-point-36-minute rate. Pushed it in transition and is looking like a very nice complement to the Barbosa/Hill back court.
Leandro Barbosa, SG 22 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 12 PTS
Wonderful. Out-scored the Pacers 2011 second-round pice by 12.
Louis Amundson, C 21 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS
Really can’t say enough about his rebounding, energy, intensity and even his passing in the 4th quater. Looked positively Dwight Howard-esque, from an impact standpoint, while surrounded by 4 non-bigs late.
George Hill, SG 28 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 6 PTS
Even without many numbers to speak of, did nice work helping the team mount the comeback and put the Knicks away.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF 15 MIN | 2-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS
Another tough shooting night and got absolutely bullied by Carmelo at times. HIt the glass well at least.

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