RJ Barrett
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks were tired and couldn’t stop the Pacers.

On Tuesday, the New York Knicks took a small step forward with a dominant, gritty road win over the San Antonio Spurs.

On Wednesday, they took two big embarrassing steps backward thanks to the Indiana Pacers. New York was cooked to death worse than the Griswolds’ Christmas turkey. Their legs were tired and the defense nonexistent in an awful 122-102 loss.

Even worse, the Knicks’ fatigue manifested as a gross lack of communication all evening. Instead of rallying after the win, they again regressed to an average and uninspired brand of basketball. Being without key defender Nerlens Noel, who sat out with a sore back, didn’t help either.

Way more went wrong than went right in Indiana, and devastatingly so.


The New York Knicks couldn’t defend

The Knicks’ entire defensive effort all night showed a complete lack of urgency. Meanwhile, the Pacers shot an effective 54.1% from the field, 37% from three, and were in ballet-like cohesion on offense. All five starters finished in double figures, led by rookie Chris Duarte’s 23 points.

And it’s not like Indiana is a great team. They improved to 11-16 and Shams Charania of The Athletic recently reported they’re leaning towards a rebuild. Plain and simple, the New York Knicks failed to protect the basket.


And the Pacers paced

The Knicks’ defense was so bad that Indiana scored with video game-like prowess. New York’s effort was so lackadaisical to the point of sheer ridiculousness. For context, of the five Pacers who scored in double figures, three had more than 20 points. Indiana also notched 26 assists, so the Knicks were practically giving points away.


A failure to communicate

The New York Knicks, on the other hand, only had 15 assists as a unit. Clear fatigue on the second half of a back-to-back resulted in nobody communicating. Playing from behind almost constantly had everyone trying too hard to put the team on their back instead of working together.

Cut to 13 turnovers, shooting 41.2% from the field and 27.6% from long range, and another uninspired game, and the Knicks looked just plain bad.



Player of the Game: Obi Toppin

The popular second-year star had one of his better games as a Knick, scoring 13 points on nine shots in 20 minutes off the bench.

Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.