Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Preview: Pacers (30-7) vs Knicks (15-23)
Scott Agness | January 13, 2014
The New York Knicks make their only visit of the year to Bankers Life Fieldhouse Thursday night in a game that’ll be spotlighted nationwide on TNT. All three meetings this season, in fact, were scheduled to be on national TV. The Knicks, who won five straight games before falling to Charlotte on Tuesday, will conclude a stretch of three of four games on the road, and then settle in at home for an eight-game homestand.
Before the season, most people expected the Knicks to be near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. However, injuries, chemistry issues and other team problems have held them back. They are a half-game out of the eighth and final playoff position in the East. In the Atlantic Division, though, Toronto, New York and Brooklyn have found some recent success.
A new year has provided the Knicks with a fresh start. After dropping four of five to end 2013, the Knicks have jumped out to a 6-2 start in 2014, and three of those wins have been by double digits. Most impressive of them all was a 102-92 victory over the Miami Heat one week ago, where they had five players finish in double figures.
The return of guard Raymond Felton, who missed 16 games due to a variety of injuries, also has been a big factor. The Pacers tried to simulate what he does and ran specific plays in practice on Wednesday. They know what kind of impact, especially when he gets in the lane, Felton can have.
The Knicks have eight players back from last season’s squad that took the Pacers to six games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Before the season, they signed Metta World Peace, Beno Udrih, traded for Andrea Bargnani and drafted Tim Hardaway, Jr.
Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony averages 26.1 points per game, second only to Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (29.6), who has a cushion on the rest of the league. Paul George has slipped to ninth. George will have the responsibilities to contain Anthony, one of the toughest players in the league to guard because it’s “pick your poison” with him.
Roy Hibbert will have a big job to do. He’s had his way with Tyson Chandler in the past, but if Chandler can’t go, he’ll face a stretch-5 in Bargnani. The Knicks frequently get into the paint, where they score almost 43 points per game (45 percent). They have a number of 3-point threats – Anthony, Udrih, Hardaway Jr., and Iman Shumpert — but the Pacers are also one of the best at defending the arc, particularly in the corner.
Knicks: Metta World Peace (out, sore left knee), Pablo Prigioni (out, hairline fracture of right great toe)
“I think it’s huge. I was just watching them the other night against Phoenix and he was a major focal point of our practice (Wednesday). His ability to turn the corner in the pick-and-roll game, and make big shots. … He’s a major difference maker for them.” – Frank Vogel on Knicks guard Raymond Felton being back from energy
“We all try to make sure that we’re keeping loose. Winning is fun. Sometimes, being serious and working leads to winning, which is fun. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of keeping things light, and laughing and joking pre-practice and post-practice. It’s an important part of our culture.” – Frank Vogel on the importance of having fun
“The Knicks have been playing well. We just have to stop what they like to do and bring energy, and bring excitement. Play hard defense, send them to Roy [Hibbert], who’s doing a good job playing defense and blocking shots.” – Lance Stephenson
“It’s hard because you always got to be recovering. Usually we try to protect the paint and go for rebounds and then you always have to be ready because they’re ready to shoot it on the perimeter. It opens the court a little bit more so there’s more space for the guards to go to the rim. It’s always a challenge.” – Luis Scola on defending stretch-5s
Nov. 20: The Pacers fell behind 13-0 as they missed their first seven shots, and trailed most of the game. Paul George exploded for 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime to help the Pacers knock off the New York Knicks on their floor, 103-96. With 5.2 seconds left in regulation, George nailed three foul shots to tie the game and then scored nine more in overtime. Though the Pacers shot just 38 percent, their defense — which held the Knicks to 37 percent shooting, including 8-of-30 from deep — made a victory possible.
George Hill had 23 points and eight rebounds. Lance Stephenson finished with nine points, nine rebounds and a team-high five assists. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 30 points on 10-of-28 shooting. J.R. Smith contributed 21 and guard Beno Udrih tallied 19. Tyson Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Raymond Felton all missed the game due to injuries.
Broadcast Information | Find Local Listings »
TV: TNT — Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Reggie Miller (analyst), Chris Webber (analyst), Rachel Nichols (sideline reporter)
Radio: The Fan 107.5FM/1070 AM, Pacers Radio Network - Mark Boyle (play-by-play), Slick Leonard (analyst), Kevin Lee (sideline reporter/host)
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