After fighting back in the second and third quarters thanks to players like RJ Barrett, Derrick Rose and Alec Burks, who got the Knicks to within two points early in the fourth quarter, the Pacers did what the Knicks have struggled to do this season – keep a big lead.
“We gave up 36 in the first quarter, so we played from behind,” said head coach Tom Thibodeau. “We had a couple of cracks when we got it down the floor. The intensity of the fourth quarter is going to be greater than the first three quarters. We have to understand that.”
The Pacers certainly understood that.
After seeing the lead slip to two points, Indiana clamped down in the fourth quarter and thwarted any attempt the Knicks had to pull out the win.
Just the fact that the Knicks got it back to within two was pretty remarkable, though, considering they only made one three-pointer in the second half. In fact, New York only attempted one three-point shot in the entire third quarter, leaning heavily, instead, on Barrett, who led the team with 23 points on the night.
“We started off, I thought we missed some open looks,” Thibodeau said. “I think when you’re not getting stops, you don’t get those easy buckets. I thought RJ had a nice game, and then we’ve got to make shots.”
Among those players who wasn’t making his shots was Kemba Walker, who finished the night 2-11 from the field including 0-of-5 from deep. As a team, the Knicks shot 5-of-24 from behind the arc.
Rose, who only played 20 minutes, was much better. He went 5-of-11 for 13 points, including tallying his 12,000th career point.
Still, it wasn’t enough for the Knicks, who lost their first game on the road this season.
“As a group we didn’t play well, and we’re all part of it,” Thibodeau said. “Coaches, players, we’re all part of it, and this is part of the season. How do we navigate it? Give the Pacers credit. They started out their season with some tough losses and now they’re playing great basketball.”
Now, after starting the season 5-1, New York has fallen to 5-3 after two straight losses and now has to travel to Milwaukee to face the defending champion Bucks.
“Things in this league, they change quickly,” Thibodeau said. “And so we’ve got to make a change quickly. We’re going to Milwaukee, they’re a terrific team. We’ve got to be ready.”
Source: Yahoo Sports