The Knicks kept pace with Indiana for a half, but they lacked the firepower in the second half to come away with the victory.

  • New York Knicks 113 (23-34)
  • Indiana Pacers 121 (32-25)
  • NBA, Final, Box Score
  • Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

It could be an uphill battle for the Knicks the rest of this season. The Indiana Pacers scored at will in the first half and the Knicks found themselves treading water for a good portion of this game. They made a late run in the fourth quarter to make Nate McMillan and the Pacers sweat it out, but Victor Oladipo provided the nail in the coffin with 50 seconds left as he secured the victory with a dagger three.

The Knicks competed and didn’t go away, but the absence of superstar Kristaps Porzingis is glaring. The Pacers sliced and diced their way to the basket all night and Porzingis’ ability to protect the rim is looking like it will be extremely tough to replace. Kyle O’Quinn racked up three blocks, but besides that, not one Knick recorded a block.

While the Knicks will have to play without their superstar, Indiana’s showed up in a huge way tonight. The aforementioned Oladipo led the way for the Pacers tonight and even flirted with a triple-double. Oladipo recorded 30 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, and six steals.

Mudiay Debut

Emmanuel Mudiay made his debut with the Knicks and if you’re looking for a positive from this game, look no further. Mudiay showcased his athleticism and his passing ability as he recorded a double-double. The Congolese product scored 14 points while dishing out 10 assists in 29 minutes. He was especially keen on finding the corner man after he penetrated the lane. The Knicks would love to see more of that.

One of the biggest reasons the Knicks like Mudiay’s game is because of his athletic frame and his ability to use that length on the interior. He has yet to practice with the team and this was his first time on the court with his teammates. It will be interesting to see how he grows as he gets more comfortable with the offense.

Changing of the Guard

Many Knicks fans will rejoice despite the loss on Sunday. Jarrett Jack started, but only played eight minutes total. It appears as though Jeff Hornacek is finally going to start featuring Jack less and allow the young guards to take the reins of the offense. Mudiay played 29 minutes and Frank Ntilikina played 31 minutes.

The two long, athletic guards played alongside one another for much of this game as well. Per ESPN’s Ian Begley, this is part of Hornacek’s plan for the rest of the season.

Jack will likely continue to start, but don’t be surprised as he is phased out of the lineup in favor for the younger players who are going to be here for the long haul.

The playoffs are out of reach at this point and it’s time to focus on the development of the young guns. It’s going to be a slow build back to being a competitive team in the NBA, but it starts with gaining valuable experience against playoff caliber teams like the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks get another shot against a playoff caliber team in the Sixers on Monday night.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.