Post-Game Grades: "It Is a Bloodletting Here in Indiana" as Pacers Hand Knicks Worst Defeat of the Season

The Pacers have laid down some good ol’ fashioned beatdowns this year, but none have felt as one-sided or as significant as the axe murder they put on the Knicks tonight. It was over before it started, as Roy Hibbert made his first three shots and the rest of the team followed suit, jumping out to a 30-18 first-quarter lead and never looking back.

“It is a bloodletting here in Indiana,” said Knicks broadcaster Spero Dedes, who at one point called the score “hard to believe and tough to explain.”

Really, games like this happen to almost every team every year. When it rains it pours and the Knicks just had no energy, execution or, seemingly, will to compete during what was their first game since February 13. They got punched in the gut right after the opening tip and their only attempt to make this a game came from a heave-and-hope offense that launched three-pointer after three-pointer hoping that a ball would bounce their way.

It never did, and looking at the punt-looking attempts Jason Kidd was tossing in the general direction of the rim, it was no surprise.

Indiana simply out-physicalled New York and the Knicks wilted, allowing an active, energetic Pacers defense to dictate the force turnovers, push the tempo and create easy buckets. And the nonexistent Knicks defense served as the perfect canvas for a precise, confident Pacers offense to paint its masterpiece. It was a thing of beauty to behold on both sides as Indiana seemed to simply wait for the first sign of weakness and then react like a rottweiler. (© AZ)

Getting past the actual happenings on the court, this was a loud message.

It’s cliché and all that, I know, but coming out of the All-Star break like this is nothing if not a statement to the rest of the conference.

Everyone believes that the Heat will enter the playoffs with the number-one seed in the East, which makes spots two and three the coveted positions. New York and Indiana, in that order, currently hold down those seeds and both teams are trying to avoid the four spot — and, thus, a second-round date with Miami — like a truck stop toilet seat.

It likely won’t come down to a tiebreaker, but the Pacers now have a 2-1 series lead over the Knicks (with the final game to be played in April in New York.) Meanwhile, Indiana has also smacked around Miami twice this season.

This team knows who its chief rivals are, and it makes no attempt to mask its desire to beat these teams. It treats these not as games but as events, and tonight they turned a high-profile matchup into must-see TV for both Pacers fans and Knicks haters.

There is a lot of time left before the playoffs and a lot can change before then.

But right now, on this night, after a bumrush out of the break like this, the Eastern Conference playoff picture can be broken down into three tiers: (1) the Miami Heat ….  a giant chasm …. (2) the Indiana Pacers, and (3) everybody else.

The Pacers are by no means as overpowering as they looked tonight, but they have the best defense in the NBA and, now, it seems, a capable offense as well.

You never want to read too much into one regular season, but, man, this win was impressive.

Pacers Knicks

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 27 MIN | 6-11 FG | 6-8 FT | 9 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +25 

The …

Paul George, SF 33 MIN | 11-19 FG | 1-1 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 27 PTS | +16 

… Knicks …

Roy Hibbert, C 18 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +5 

… can …

George Hill, PG 28 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +24 

… probably …

Lance Stephenson, SG 28 MIN | 5-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | +21 

… blame …

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 19 MIN | 2-3 FG | 6-10 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +17 

… this …

Jeff Pendergraph, PF 23 MIN | 3-5 FG | 3-3 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +12 

… on …

Sam Young, SF 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +18 

… something …

Gerald Green, SF 6 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +4 

… that …

Ian Mahinmi, C 10 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | +9 

… John …

Ben Hansbrough, PG 5 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +1 

… Starks …

D.J. Augustin, PG 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 3-3 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +9 

… once …

Orlando Johnson, SG 14 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +9 

… did.

Tags: Game Recap

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  • Realist

    If/when we’re playing Miami in the ECF, is the aim by then to still have Lance at the 2, PG at the 3 and DG off the bench, or slide PG over to the 2 and have DG at the 3 like last year? My understanding was we’re just trying to get back to that ridiculously effective starting unit of Hill/PG/DG/West/Roy.

    Danny Granger is my favourite player in the world, but I’m fine with him coming off the bench and doing a Harden-OKC type gig, probably playing in crunch-time etc.

    And while DG’s defense is solid and he has the additional body size (for Lebron maybe), PG just seems to be defending the elite 3′s so damn well.

    Also, BKN are hot on our heels, but they have played 30 home / 25 away. 8 game road trip next month should help hold them off.

    • Ian

      Vogel has said Danny is the starter once he’s back at full strength. I think that it’s a mistake, at least for the rest of the season, but that’s what he’s said.

      • djmcba

        I am absolutely with you in terms of that being a mistake. Our problem (though we certainly didn’t have anything resembling a problem last night) is our bench. Our starting five with Lance is one of the top lineups in the NBA – better than OKC’s top line-up in terms of +/-.

        I can’t figure out why you would break up a good thing especially since Danny’s instant offense would be the perfect remedy for our second unit. Ian has been great defensively, Tyler has improved on that side and having Danny on that unit not only makes them incredibly tough defensively but one would think their scoring rate dramatically improves as well.

        There has to be more of a mental aspect to this – in terms of Danny’s stature on the team and Vogel not wanting to “relegate” him to the bench. That said, I don’t see Danny as the type of guy to be too insecure to play a Manu-esque role especially considering that he would (likely) still be in the game during crunch time along with Hill, PG, West, and the good Dr. Hibbert.

        If anyone has more insight it would be greatly appreciated.

        • Joe Betz

          So, from my reading, Granger will be coming off the bench for something like 2-5 games. He is practicing hard and it shouldn’t take him long to get into game shape. Vogel has said he does not want to limit Stephenson because of how well he has developed and played this year.

          Therefore, look for Granger’s minutes to be below his average–something like 3-6 minutes–for the rest of the season, and perhaps a small dip (1-2 minutes) in PG’s playing time, to keep Lance on the floor close to the minutes he is getting now. Granger starting will recreate the elite starting five the pacers had last year–and you definitely want to do that—, and the hope will be that with Lance integrated into the 2nd unit, and perhaps the reemergence of Green, the Pacers will have a quick, athletic bench that won’t hemorrhage points and can trade baskets.

          Orlando Johnson has filled in well for Green, so it might continue to be a constant rotation of Green, Johnson, and Young at the 2/3 for the season…in that case, we just have to hope Vogel is playing the right guy. So, no Granger – as – Manu, but hopefully Lance – as – solid – sixth man who can get you ten points every night and play frustrating defense.

    • Tim Donahue

      The plan is to get Danny back to the starting line up after a brief ramp up period, and have Lance move back to the bench. Lance said last night that he was trying to become more aggressive, in anticipation of having a bigger offensive role with the second unit.

  • K0NRT15

    i like the idea of DG coming off the bench but Vogel pretty much said that’s def not happening. Hopefully while they ease him back into the rotation it goes so well that they leave him as 6th man

  • Andrew Sparks

    I had a &%*@ eating grin for about a solid hour this evening. I dont mean to get ahead of myself, but this justifies a lot of pain/anguish that has come along with being a Pacers fan over the years. Brace yourself men. This might be the straw that broke the camels back with the band wagoners. Admittedly Ill still take them.

  • kemosabe

    What an awesome game.

  • Philip Tarrant

    One of my coworkers is a Knicks fan. I gave him regular updates….

  • Jack Wright

    Regarding DG entering the starting lineup or coming off the bench in the playoffs, remember that nothing is set in stone right now. Most of you seem to want DG to come off the bench, which might be a good idea. But also remember how efficient our lineup of Hill/PG/DG/West/Hibbert was last season. I think either way we go, we’ll improve. It’s tough for me to choose which rotation is better.

    • djmcba

      I don’t have any doubt that with DG in the starting line-up we have a tremendous starting unit – I more so worry that Lance regresses a bit when asked to do more.

      Either way, deadline has passed, we have who we have and lets see how much damage they can do.

  • dwaink

    what a nice start to the second half of the season! GO PACERS!!!

  • Jack Wright

    Keep your chin up Big Roy.

  • Bradley Smith II

    Charles Barkley said about the Knicks something like, “It’s gunna take em a while to take the foot outta they ass after what Indiana put on em. They can’t probably play till Sunday afternoon.” during the half time show last night. Wonderful commentary.