Nembhard Prayer 3 Wins It; Pacers Get Lotsa Calls. Indiana 111 NY 106

The Knicks got seemingly Robbed on a number of controversial calls down the stretch, missed a couple of key free throws, were out-rebounded (42-41), and had a couple of Jalen Brunson‘s runners roll in and out in the closing minutes — but it came down to a 31-foot heave as the 24-second clock was expiring by Andrew Nembhard with 30 seconds left that cost NY this game.

Brunson had just tied the game with a CLUTCH 3 with 42 seconds left, and the Knicks played great D — forcing a Tyrese Halliburton 3-pt miss — but Indiana got the long serendipity rebound and 14 seconds back on the clock. NY defended like glue and Nembhard threw up the prayer and hit as the clock was expiring, to Mike Breen’s BANG on the national broadcast.

Then after a timeout — Brunson attempted a 3 in traffic with 13 seconds left hoping to draw a foul — missed, and didn’t get the call — one of 6 controversial calls that went against NY in the 4th quarter. Ballgame. It was free throws after that.

At least the Knicks didn’t get “run off the court in the 3rd quarter” as the ESPN halftime analysts predicted they would; NY without OG Anunoby (and Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle) and with a slightly gimpy Jalen Brunson, still recovering from the ankle sprain of the prior game.

In fact they almost, coulda, woulda won. Next game Sunday afternoon in Indiana.

“From my vantage point I thought those calls could have gone our way, but I’m not going to comment until I look at the film,” said Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “But we just have to find a way to win — that’s the bottom line.”

Josh Hart said one of the referees was unapproachable, which was unusual. “What was tough for us was that one of them wasn’t approachable. Obviously in a playoff game — you want to see what someone interprets or where they see the foul so you know how they’re calling it. One of them wasn’t approachable at all. But it’s not on them we had plenty of chances to win the game.”

1. Brunson Comes Out Sketchy; Indiana Races to 10-Pt Lead

Jalen Brunson was listed as “questionable” to play in this game due to the ankle injury suffered before halftime of the previous game. But he was on the court at the start of the game — although he seemed a bit tentative as his vertical was off, and his shot was not falling.

Indiana meanwhile came in with their backs to the wall — down 2-0 in the series — and raced out to a 22-12 lead on the scoring of Tyrese Halliburton (on his way to 35 points on 14-26 shooting, 6-16 from 3), Aaron Nesmith, Pascal Siakam, and Myles Turner.

2. DiVincenzo Saves the Knicks

It wasn’t looking good for NY until Donte DiVincenzo hit back-to-back 3’s late in the 1st quarter to pull NY back within 4 points at 24-20.


“Donte DiVincenzo can really shoot the ball and he makes himself even tougher by catching in triple threat, understands how to move without the ball, use curls/screens with quick release,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “Also, can take you off the bounce which opens his jumper more and overplay him and he backdoors u.”

DiVincenzo would be Offensive Story 1a for the Knicks all night — with 35 points on 12-26 shooting (7-11 from 3).

“Tough loss for the Knicks but Donte continues to play great ball,” added Kreines. “I don’t generally retweet myself but in 2018 I tweeted this out of the draft. Donte does everything you ask and more along with never cheating you of effort like most of Jay Wright’s players.”

3. BURKS Off the Bench — NY Down 5 at the Half!

Indiana went back up 9 after Divo’s 3’s on a 3 by Nesmith and drive by Siakam — giving them a 29-20 lead entering the 2nd quarter — but then Miles McBride hit a big 3 and Offensive Story 1B for the Knicks joined the fray: Alec Burks coming off the bench, hitting a J.

It was just the beginning of a great night for Burks — 14 points on 4-6 shooting (2-4 from 3) in 21 minutes with some key defensive plays too. Burks has been much maligned by Knick fans this year after NY acquired him with Bojan Bogdanovic in February — for his play which seemed out of sorts with the frenetic brand of ball NY plays.

But not on this night. Burks was keyed in and looked every bit the disruptor.

Brunson started to hit his shot, and NY raged back.

TJ McConnell came in, and on this night McBride did a better job defending him. McBride also continued to add to the scoring.

Halliburton and Turner hit-back-to-back 3’s midway thru the 2nd to put Indiana back up 8, but Brunson answered with a 3 and a drive-and-1 and NY was back within 2.

Burks continued to score to keep the game tight — hitting free throws off a drive and two 3’s late in the quarter.

A Siakam shot near the buzzer put Indiana up 5 at the half.

4. Knicks Take Lead in 3rd

On the halftime show two of the ESPN analysts predicted Indiana would blow NY away in the 3rd quarter. It didn’t happen. The Knicks in fact took the lead.

Myles Turner hit two drives inside early in the 3rd to put Indiana up 9 again — but out of a Thibs timeout DiVincenzo hit a drive-and-1, and then another drive to pull NY back within 4. Divo hit a 3 to pull NY within 3.

Indiana answered with 8 straight points on 3’s by Halliburton and Siakam and a Siakam drive — and Indiana was back up 11 — but Brunson found Hartenstein for a floater in the lane, and Divo hit ANOTHER 3 and NY was back within 6.

Other Knicks joined the scoring fray — Brunson with floaters and Hartenstein with an offensive rebound and tip-in. Then Divo hit ANOTHER 3 and NY was down 81-80.

Obi Toppin made a drive but then Hartenstein BLOCKED Ben Sheppard ‘s dunk which led to a Josh Hart pass to Divo on the break for a drive-and-1 and NY took the lead 85-83!

Josh Hart hit a J, and Burks hit free throws and NY took a 90-85 lead into the 4th quarter.

5. Knicks Up by 9 Early in 4th

DiVincenzo hit ANOTHER 3 to start the 4th and NY was up 8.

McBride joined the scoring, with free throws, and then a 3 and NY was up 9 — 98-89 — with 9:46 left.

6. Halliburton Leads Pacers Back; NY Doesn’t Get Calls

But Indiana came back — seemingly helped a bit by calls that went against NY.

Controversial Play that Swung Momentum

Halliburton drove in the lane and barreled into Knick defenders but got the call for an and-1 — foul on McBride — making it 98-92 — a key play that gave Indiana momentum. Some Knick fans on Twitter felt Thibs should have challenged the call — but it was hard to say if the refs, who received stinging criticism from Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle before the game — would reverse such a call.

Halliburton then made another drive, then stole the ball on a Brunson pass for another drive and Indiana was down 98-96 with 7:42 left.

Brunson hit 1 of 2 free throws; Siakam countered with a drive and then also went 1-2 from the line and Indiana was back on top by a point.

NY Loses Its Challenge

A key play happened with 4:23 left, when the ball went out of bounds under the Indiana basket after a fight for the ball — it was ruled off NY — but Brunson asked Thibs to challenge. NY did and lost the challenge — the replay showing indeed the ball went off Brunson last. That was key as NY didn’t have a challenge anymore for some arguable calls down the stretch.

Indiana gained possession but Siakam missed a shot, and Brunson came down and hit a clutch step-back to put NY back up 101-100 with 3:53 left.

Two More Controversial Calls

Then came another controversial call that went against NY:

Siakam drove the lane and ran over Brunson for an apparent offensive foul — but the refs called a foul on Brunson.

And then came another controversial call on the very next play — Brunson drove and was mugged by Nembhard — the refs called a foul but Indiana challenged. The refs ruled that Brunson was not fouled at the end of the play (saying nothing about the mugging leading up to it).

Another Controversial Play

And then came another controversial play — after a Josh Hart free throw tied the game, Hart stole a Halliburton pass and raced up the court for a drive that would put NY ahead — but Myles Turner blocked the drive from behind. Replays showed it may have been a goal tend that wasn’t called by the refs. Josh Hart howled. Knick fans on Twitter howled.

“I know it was a goaltend. I saw it,” said Josh Hart afterwards.

Another Controversial Play

But Indiana had the ball, Nembard hit a drive while Hartenstein was being pulled back from defending by Pascal Siakam — not called and Indiana was up 2 with under 2 minutes left.

Brunson was fouled — and hit 1 of 2 free throws down the other end — another thing that would haunt.

Siakam hit a drive with 54 seconds left and Indiana was up 2.

But Brunson came down and hit a HUGE 3 and the game was tied 106-106 with 42 seconds left.

Then came the Nembhard prayer.

Final Controversial Play

Even the final 3-pt attempt by Brunson — which Brunson himself felt was a bad shot — was met with suspicion by many Knick fans who felt he was indeed fouled. But the refs didn’t call it and the Knicks lost.

The Boxscore


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.