Eddy Curry’s consecutive 20-point scoring streak ended at 11 games. The Pacers did a good job of being physical with him, pushing him just out of deep post position. They also did a good job of mixing up single and double coverage. I sensed from the telecast that Curry was frustrated but not so much that his effort level dropped off significantly from previous nights. (In fact I noted some pretty good defensive efforts one-on-one against Jermaine O’Neal, a vastly quicker player.) He just got outplayed. It’ll be interesting to see what he brings tonight versus Denver.
When Q-Rich left the game with back spasms (uh oh!), leaving Curry on the floor without shooters, he had little room to operate. I for one will be happy to see Channing Frye make his return, perhaps as soon as tonight. As poorly as Frye’s played so far this season he’s far more adept at hitting the mid-range jumper that David Lee routinely turns down when Curry passes out of the post. The foursome of Richardson, Lee, Frye, and Jeffries should ensure that the Knicks have a shooter and a rebounder on the floor with Curry to keep defenses honest and clean up his misses. Hopefully it will also ensure that we have seen the last of Malik Rose’s minutes.
Last night just belonged to the Pacers. To use my obligatory Clydism, they “bewitched and bedeviled” the Knick 2-3 zone, a defense that has worked well for the team (of course, “well” is relative here). If you saw the game though, particularly the 42 point second quarter, it was the Knicks’ offensive issues that led most directly to the run. The Knicks were scoring, but much of it was Jamal Crawford going 1-on-N. In the second quarter when Curry picked up his second foul and went to the bench the Knicks picked up the pace and went up 7. NY then proceeded to throw possessions away with poor shot selection and untimely turnovers leading to easy baskets for Indiana. When this team doesn’t score it inevitably loses concentration on defense. The Pacers, to their credit, shot the three-ball well from the outset, 12 for 23 on the night, and that’s with virtually an entire 4th quarter of garbage time. But, this wasn’t simply a hot-shooting night. The Pacers worked the ball to get any shot they wanted against the zone. Their best three-point shooters–Harrington, Jackson, and Granger off the bench–took shots over smaller rotating defenders. So even when the Knicks had good rotation, which was certainly not all the time, the defenders couldn’t really bother the shot.
Note: Steve Adamek reports that Marbury was benched due to a strained patella tendon, and coincidentally, for “not playing any defense.”