Knicks Come at Pacers Like the BORG. NY 138 Indiana 129

Obi Toppin SLAMS vs Indiana -- picture courtesy MSG

With Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett out — the Knicks become a different but still very good team: they come at you like the BORG in Star Trek — 5 players attacking as a single decentralized unit — you don’t know who is going to shoot.

Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley, Josh Hart, Mitchell Robinson — defending, stealing, passing, attacking the rim, hitting 3’s, slam dunking, ripping down offensive rebounds, blocking shots — relentlessly coming at you with speed and athleticism and high basketball IQ.

That’s the show the Knicks put on against the Indiana Pacers in Indiana on a Wednesday night. A meaningless game for both teams, standings wise — as the Knicks have already clinched the 5th spot in the playoffs — they can’t go higher or lower — and Indiana is out of the playoffs.

Quickley had 39 points, Grimes had 36, Toppin had 32 — the first time the Knicks had 3 players with 30 points since 1979 (a double overtime game — see Etcetera section below). Josh Hart was everywhere — defending and stealing the ball and feeding Obi for breakaway slams — only 6 pts but 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, and a +31. And Mitchell Robinson was dominant inside: 14 pts, 16 rebounds, 7 blocks, 2 steals and an assist.

When asked what impressed him most about a game where the Knicks had three 30-point scorers, coach Tom Thibodeau immediately answered: “Mitchell. Mitch had a monster game. It started with that. The rebounding with Mitchell was unbelievable. And then Quick and Quentin — it was probably Quentin’s best game. And then Obi terrific as well. The way the ball moved. 138 points, 33 assists. So really strong play. And the thing I love about Josh — the rebounding, the playmaking — then you look at his points (6) then you look at his plus/minus (+31) and it’s just incredible and it’s like that every game. What he brings to the team is hard to measure but it’s invaluable to us.”

1. Robinson Took Charge Early

Indiana was without Tyrese Haliburton, and Myles Turner — so both teams were without key starters. Without Myles Turner inside, Mitchell Robinson beasted from the start — the Knicks were feeding him the ball like he was Patrick Ewing and he was slamming inside.

He had 8 points to lead the team in scoring early in the 1st quarter — until Obi, Grimes, and Quickley started taking over the load.

But it wasn’t just scoring — Robinson was Dominating with blocked shots, rebounds, and Defense. All game. He finished with a +27.

Isaiah Hartenstein played well but was on the court when Indiana made runs back — and had 8 pts, 7 rebounds but a -18.

2. Knicks = BORG

This was an up-tempo game for both teams — NBA action with fast breaks, great passing, and 3’s. The Knicks led throughout the first half, and knocked on the door of going up double digits several times but Indiana would come back and pull close.

Obi Toppin had 19 points at the half, and Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley were right behind him with 16 each.

Evan Fournier got some action, as did Jericho Sims and Miles McBride on the 2nd team. Indiana had a balanced attack led by top rookie Bennedict Mathurin and Jalen Smith.

The Knicks took charge midway through the 3rd to go up by 14 points.

3. Indiana Hung Tough

But near the end of the 3rd quarter, T.J. McConnell came in and did his usual pain-in-the-ass stuff — splitting defenders for drives to the hoop, stealing the ball for a breakaway layup, and leading a 9-point Indiana run that put them right back in the game.

4. Knicks Applied DEFENSE in 4th

Led again by McConnell with some help from Buddy Hield, Indiana actually took the lead at the beginning of the 4th quarter. But then the Knicks really applied the D — which resulted in steal after steal by Josh Hart and QGrimes and breakaway slams for Obi Toppin.

It became the steal-the-ball-and-pass-to-Obi-for-a-slam show.

It was a tie game with 4:34 left but consecutive breakaway Obi dunks off steals put the Knicks up 4, at 124-120.

And then Grimes hit a 3, and then Quickley hit a 3, and then Grimes slashed to the bucket for a slam.

Like the BORG — multiple weapons all firing at you like a single decentralized machine.


The Boxscore


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