I’ve never seen anything like that. I’m sure Elias Sports or ESPN Stats & Info can find a similar brand of failure. But the Pacers started the fourth quarter off getting outscored 20-0. Going back even further, the Knicks mounted a 30-2 run. Also a 36-4 run after an ill-advised timeout that is already being debated as controversial. Take you pick on which run looks worse aesthetically.
Both are vomit reheated.
The funny part is that, minutes earlier, the Pacers had improbably taken a lead.
Indiana trailed by double digits in the first half but came roaring back in the third quarter. The team had been sloppy with the ball all game (15 turnovers through three-and-a-half quarters) and couldn’t get to the line. They really hadn’t played particularly well. So I was honestly surprised to see that a Lance Stephenson three-pointer with 4:20 to play in the period actually gave them the lead.
The Pacers were up 61-60 with just over 16 minutes to play. It’s comical to even type that now knowing what ensued.
They seemed to be sitting pretty. Their best, sloppiest ball seemed to be behind them. They were starting to put it all together. David West, after the game, mentioned that it seemed like they had New York on the ropes. It was time to seize the day, put on the clamps defensively and go get on a plane up 2-0 in the series headed to Indiana.
Instead, they opted for the choose-your-own-adventure nightmare behind door number two. “I’ll take getting outscored 36-4 over a 12:19 stretch for $1,000, Alex.” (I know I’m mixing my game-show metaphors here.)
It was one of the most embarrassing, hard-to-believe things I’ve ever seen. It seemed like make believe. Seriously, they gave up a 30-2 run at one point while the Knicks scored the first 20 points of the fourth quarter. Yes. Fourth-quarter scoring was 20-0. Indiana went more than eight minutes without scoring a point. While employing professional basketball players, almost all of which make more than $1 million per year to play basketball as a job.
It turns out that those ropes West talked about must have been the same ones Muhammad Ali leaned on in Zaire. Because the Pacers took a George Foreman-sized L in this one.
We could discuss other aspects of the game. (Why all the turnovers? New York’s strategic shift to not attack the rim. Paul George scoring efficiently on the road. An odd time out and substitution by Frank Vogel that seemingly prompted the collapse.)
But why bother?
One thing trumped all else: Indiana couldn’t score nary a single point for eight minutes while the Knicks couldn’t miss.
Laughing is the only response — unless perhaps you’re more the crying type.
It’s also gallows-y funny that Reggie Miller was on the sidelines broadcasting the game for TNT. When he was on the Pacers playing in MSG in the playoffs, fourth quarters got weird. He once scored 25 points in the final 12 minutes, for example. There was 8 points in 8.9 seconds. Patrick Ewing missed wide-open finger rolls.
Well, now, there is one more epic playoff memory created by these rival: 0 points, 8 minutes.
Laugh. Cry. Do whatever you want. Just don’t expect to ever see something that strange, and embarrassing, again anytime soon.
|David West, PF |
|Paul George, SF |
|Roy Hibbert, C |
|George Hill, PG |
|Lance Stephenson, SG |
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF |
|Sam Young, SF |
|Ian Mahinmi, C |
|D.J. Augustin, PG |
|Frank Vogel |
* stats are for closers