Knicks on Fumes. Indiana 116 NY 103

Now even Josh Hart is badly injured — pulling an Abs muscle early in game 6.

Hart continued to play but was not the same Hart. He left to the lockerroom for good in the 2nd half.

No Hart.

No OG Anunoby.

No Mitchell Robinson.

No Julius Randle.

Meanwhile, Indiana played a PHYSICAL defensive game and attacked the Boards — beating NY easily, 116-103 on a Friday night in Indiana to force a 7th game.

“It’s not easy, but I think we just have to keep pushing,” said Isaiah Hartenstein afterwards. About Hart, Hartenstein said “He’ll do whatever to play. If his leg’s not falling off… he’ll probably play.”

1. Hart Injured Early

Josh Hart was playing a tough physical game from the start — but pulled an abs muscle at some point early in the 1st quarter — most noticeably feeling it at the 6:47-left mark when he scrambled for a rebound. He soon left the game, and then came back in and out of the game for the next 3 quarters, at one point going to the locker room for treatment and coming back, continuously nursing an ice pack over his abdomin when on the sidelines.

He played 31 minutes but was not the same Josh Hart — even tentatively missing an easy layup on a break at one point.

Without the normal Hart, the Knicks were playing on fumes.

“How bad do you want to win?” asked NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Josh Hart making winning plays as he’s the first one on the floor with his relentless pursuit, he wants it more and outworks you which leads to a Donte 3.”

2. McConnell Hounded Brunson

Meanwhile, Indiana came out with a tough, physical defense — hounding the Knicks for the full court on every possession — with T.J. McConnell HOUNDING Jalen Brunson — seemingly fouling him 3 times every time up court. But the refs were “letting the boys play.”

Brunson was also getting blitzed and double teamed — and was missing his shot. He hit his first shot of the game, then missed 11 in a row until halftime.

McConnell was also providing offense — 15 points on 7-13 shooting in 16 minutes. It felt like he played 35 minutes.

T.J. McConnell plays with a purpose,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “knows his role and it doesn’t matter how many minutes he gets or how many shots he gets as his effort, activity, defense and his willingness to win and relentless pursuit never change. T.J.brings skills you can’t teach and skills he never cheats

3. McBride a Hero Early

Miles McBride was a hero early for NY — playing great D on Tyrese Halliburton, and hitting his 3, and his drives and pullups. McBride would finish with 20 points on 8-12 shooting (4-6 from 3).

NY actually had a 30-29 lead at the end of the 1st quarter, due mostly to the play of McBride and Donte DiVincenzo.

4. Indiana Played PHYSICAL Defense; Owned Boards

But without Mitch, without Randle, with Hart hobbled, and with Brunson missing his shot — Indiana outscored NY 32-21 in the 2nd quarter to take a 10-point halftime lead.

Indiana owned the boards. Myles Turner played an aggressive game, beating Isaiah Hartenstein on drives to the hoop, and doing a great job of blocking Hartenstein out from getting offensive rebounds.

Hartenstein finished with only 7 rebounds in 33 minutes. Turner had 17 points on 6-10 shooting and 8 rebounds.

Pascal Siakam was also getting loose in the lane, as a hobbled Hart had trouble guarding him. Siakam would go for 25 pts on 11-21 shooting.

NY was down by 13 points but a Donte DiVincenzo 3 near the buzzer pulled NY back within 10 at the half — and a second before the half ended, a technical was called on Aaron Nesmith off the ball.

5. Brunson Came Alive in 2nd Half — Not Enough

Jalen Brunson hit the technical free throw to start the 2nd half, pulling NY within 9, and then went to work — hitting a drive to break his schneid of 11 straight missed shots. McBride hit a drive and NY was back within 5.

NY intensified their D — but on the next two possessions Indiana got serendipity, long rebounds off missed shots, and hit 3’s as the 24-second clock was expiring — one by Andrew Nembhard and the next by Tyrese Halliburton — and that stung the Knicks — pushing them 11 back again.

It was more of the same throughout the 3rd and 4th quarters — the Knick defense was not able to contain 3-pt shooting by Indiana.

6. Burks a Hero; Brunson Strong 2nd Half

Alec Burks came off the Knick bench to give the Knicks a charge late in the 3rd and early in the 4th — scoring on drives and 3’s and getting to the line. He had 11 pts.

Jalen Brunson continued to attack until the end — finishing with 31 points on 11-26 shooting, looking like the old Jalen Brunson in the 2nd half despite McConnell continuing to hound him and seemingly foul him 3 times each time up court.

With Indiana up by 19 points, Thibs pulled the plug with 4 minutes left, bringing in the 3rd team which included Jacob Toppin.

The Boxscore

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