Pacers Get Revenge. Indiana 141 NY 136

The Knicks were up by 16 points with 4:25 left in the 3rd quarter — waltzing to a win on the last game of the season — fan appreciation day at Madison Square Garden on an Easter Sunday afternoon.

And then something horrible happened — Indiana kept playing with intensity — as if it were a playoff game for them — and the Knicks 2nd team (3rd team with two starters out?) fell asleep at the wheel. Indiana’s Oshae Brissett was going to the hole, and Buddy Hield and George Hill kept hitting 3’s. Indiana closed to within 7 at the end of the 3rd and kept momentum going into the 4th — going up by 13 points with 4 minutes left.

The Knicks woke up with 4 minutes left — pulling back to within 3 — but too late.

“Defense was an issue,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. When asked if he was concerned about the defense, Thibs said, “I’m concerned about everything.”

About the upcoming playoffs, Thibs said: “Tomorrow we’ll dig in — and layout the plan, and just get ready. Go day by day. That’s the way we approach it.”

The loss gave everyone a bit of a sour taste heading into the playoffs — albiet coming in a meaningless game, and one with Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson out resting.

Still the Pacers had revenge for getting ripped by the Knicks last week, and having lost all 3 prior games to the Knicks this year.

1. Turning Point

The Knicks were cruising with the 14-point lead late in the 3rd — but a turning point came with 3:51 left when Mitchell Robinson — who had been dominant inside — and RJ Barrett went to the bench to rest, replaced by Isaiah Hartenstein and Josh Hart. Hartenstein has been terrific all season but Brissett started to go at him successfully in the lane.

And then Buddy Hield got hot from 3.

By the end of the 3rd, Indiana had sliced NY’s lead down to 7 points.

Evan Fournier came into the game to start the 4th, replacing Quentin Grimes — and that didn’t help. George Hill got hot along with Hield and G-Leaguer Gabe York was playing like he didn’t want to go back to the G League or Greece or any other place where he’d recently been playing.

“These 3’s are falling like rain for the Pacers,” said Walt Frazier on the broadcast. “They’re drainin’ and painin’ the Knicks.”

Mike Breen added: “This is a playoff game for the Pacers here today.”

When Josh Hart drove the length of the court and appeared fouled but no call with just over 4 minutes left — he got hit with 2 technicals — free throws made by Bennedict Mathurin — and Indiana was up 13 with just over 4 minutes left.

2. Knicks Wake Up Too Late

Mitchell Robinson had re-entered the game with 5 minutes left, and with Quentin Grimes replacing Hart, and RJ Barrett back in the game with Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin — the Knicks woke up and started playing a more aggressive game — but their frenetic comeback came up short.

NY pulled to within 137-133 with 22 seconds left, and when Quickley intercepted the inbounds the Knicks had a shot to pull even closer — but Quickley missed a fall-away jumper and Mitchell Robinson‘s offensive rebound and put back rolled in and out. Indiana free throws seemed to ice it.

Still — down 6 with 4.7 seconds left coach Tom Thibodeau called a timeout.

And out of the time out Toppin hit a 3 to make it 139-136. But more Indiana free throws finally did ice it.

3. Robinson BEASTED

The loss marred a tremendous evening by Mitchell Robinson who absolutely BEASTED in this game. It showed how important he is on the court for the Knicks — the Indiana comeback came when he was sitting.

Robinson had 9 points (4-10 shooting), 20 rebounds (14 offensive boards), 7 blocks, a steal. 2 assists, and a +18.

4. Toppin Terrific

Obi Toppin was terrific — continuing to look like the Toppin who lit up the arena the last 5 games of last year when he got a chance to start with Randle injured.

Toppin led NY’s scoring with 34 points on 13-23 shooting, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals.

Obi Toppin showing how his improved jumper puts his defender on his heels,” noted NBA analyst Ross Kreines during the game on Twitter. “He knocks down a 3 and next possession his defender closes and bites on a shot fake so Obi puts the ball on floor, gets to the hole and creates contact. Also, his slashing/cutting has gotten him easy looks.”

5. Quick Terrific

Immanuel Quickley had another tremendous game — 20 points on 9-22 shooting (3-11 from 3; 9-9 in free throws), 9 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and a +9. He ate up the court and the boxscore.

6. Barrett Strong Game

RJ Barrett had a strong, efficient game — 18 points on 7-16 shooting — and 1-3 from 3 — finally hitting a 3 after going 0-9 from 3 the prior game. He made many excellent passes — as remarked by Mike Breen on the broadcast — only finishing with 3 assists as many of the shots off his passes were missed by teammates. Barrett was a +7.

7. Grimes Good Too

Quentin Grimes had another strong, efficient outing: 22 points on 8-13 shooting (5-10 from 3). He had a +14.

Hartenstein (-23), Hart (-29), Fournier (-16), and McBride (-12) — the 2nd team — all had horrid +/- numbers.


The Knicks finish 47-35 — not quite the 50 wins we predicted but a few blown games away (like this one) from that mark. They were 37-45 last year.

  • Julius Randle finished averaging 25.1 ppg and 10.0 rpg to lead the team in both categories.
  • Jalen Brunson averaged 24.0 ppg with 6.2 apg.
  • RJ Barrett finished with a 19.6 ppg average, with 5.0 rpg. Barrett tremendously increased his 2-pt field goal percentage to .495 from .442, and increased his FT percentage to .740 from .714. His 3-pt percentage needs work — he shot .310 from 3 vs .342 last year and .401 the year before.
  • Immanuel Quickley averaged 14.9 ppg
  • QGrimes averaged 11.3
  • Mitchell Robinson averaged 7.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg, and 1.8 blocks per game.
  • Josh Hart averaged 10.2 ppg in 25 games with the Knicks.
  • Isaiah Hartenstein averaged 5.0 ppg and 6.5 rpg in 19.8 minutes per game
  • Obi Toppin averaged 7.4 ppg in 15.7 mpg
  • Miles McBride averaged 3.5 ppg in 11.9 mpg
  • Jericho Sims averaged 3.4 ppg and 4.7 rpg in 15.6 mpg

The Boxscore



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