Pacers 125, Knicks 91

New York Knicks 91 FinalRecap | Box Score 125 Indiana Pacers

Yep, it’s another one of those recaps. If you want grades, everyone failed. That’s not hyperbole or the gnawing rage that’s roiling in my gut talking; they all get a well-deserved F, even Jim Todd fails for not punching Frank Vogel in his sweaty, carbuncular little substitute teacher face. If you want to hear what happened, because you were fortunate enough to skip this so-called display of professional-grade basketball, just think about all the things that have bedeviled the ‘Bockers this season—Melo jacking contested mid-range shots, stagnant offense, an inability to fight through the slightest screen and/or switching at each and every opportunity, allowing a physical team and a series of questionable calls get into their heads causing the loss of all composure, giving a poor shooting team enough time to both prepare and enjoy a light snack before launching a shot such that said poor shooting team gets insanely hot/confident, an over-reliance on three-point shooting, missed free throws, getting pulverized on the boards. Got that? Good. Now imagine all those things happened in the same game simultaneously but far worse than the absolute nadir that we’ve seen so far this season.

It was like that, with the added bonus of Lance Stephenson and Paul George toying with the Knicks in a manner similar to that of your older brother beating you handily in a pickup game and questioning your manhood/sexual orientation, possibly whilst administering a slew of purple nurples, Indian burns, noogies, wedgies, and even the dreaded atomic wedgie. (For those who never were administered one, it’s a painful prank where one or more individuals pull the tighty-whities of the victim up and over that person’s head while they are wearing them, sometimes covering their eyes and cramming their undergarment so far up their crack it tends to rend the flesh therein.)

Here are some numbers if you’re not convinced. At halftime, the Knicks’ Offensive Efficiency was 86.3 and their Defensive Efficiency (facing an opponent whose offense no one would confuse with the ’86 Celtics) was 145.1.

And here’s a picture of the Knicks’ shooting. The blood, so much blood…

Embarrassing. Humiliating. Pathetic. The Knicks were the archetypal ectomorphic bow tie wearing, bug collecting, Ventolin inhaler-sucking, clarinet playing, pock marked geek/nerd/dweeb/dork/spaz and the Pacers were the schoolyard bully/jock/cool kid.

So yeah, they all fail Hoops 101 tonight. They earned said mark not because the threes and countless layups weren’t falling. That’ll happen from time to time (and has with ever-increasing frequency of late), but because they played with absolutely zero energy and/or effort. If you’ve read my recaps in the past, you’ll know that the “The other team wanted it more” cliché is a particular bugaboo of mine. It’s a sloppy, throwaway line that writers/broadcasters sling in lieu of actual analysis.

Well, here’s the thing about clichés. They’re clichés because they do contain a great deal of truth. It’s something I picked up in AA. You can look at the line, “Take it one day at a time,” like useless pabulum that’s better served on a crocheted on the pillowcase and hung on the wall of a suburban family’s den somewhere in a flyover state.

But the nasty teeth buried within that saccharine-sounding bit of fortune cookie-level advice is that the reality of truly being present and living each day for itself is requires the kind of focus/concentration that monks and mystics spend a lifetime trying to perfect/master.

So yes, “They lacked desire,” is both meaningless and incredibly meaningful. The fact that they put forth this execrable effort after the all-star break, when batteries were supposedly recharging aged bones were rejuvenating in hermetically-sealed, oxygen-infusing hyperbaric chambers and whatnot, when a drive towards the postseason would be the only thing on their collective hive-mind and they’d be focused on putting their best Nike-clad foot forward is a bad, bad sign, to say the least.

For fuck’s sake, even our normally vitriolic coach seemed dumbly benumbed by this gelatinous, oozing, snot green, thing-you’d-scrape-off-the-bottom-of-your-shoe-but-you’re-scared-it-might-contain-a-flesh-eating-virus-level abomination of a game. He had that same bemused, semi-lobotomized grim grin that Isiah sported throughout the entirety of the 2007-08 season. The look that said, “I’m not leaving. They’re gonna have to fire me but I’m not walking away from those Cablevision ducats. I might go postal and decapitate every single sentient life form in the locker room but I’m not. Going. To. Leave.” In the 4th, he even took to wearing spectacles on the sideline for the first time…ever, I think. I can’t imagine he wanted to get a better view of what was occurring on the court. I’m a going to assume that he was pulling a Bobby Valentine, donning a shoddy costume to avoid detection. If the reaction on the Twitter is any indication, there’s a storming-Frankenstein’s-castle-type horde of peasants toting pitchforks and flaming torches, ready to vivisect the Goateed one should he venture past the moat that is MSG’s militant give-no-quarter PR team.


Why they decided to exhibit all the energy and desire of a anhedonic Emo band front man, mumbling, “Fight through a pick? Gah. Screw that. There’ll be another one in a few seconds. Besides, closing out on this shooter isn’t going to bring my girl back. I hate myself,” is beyond my knowledge, but it certainly doesn’t speak well of either the so-called “Veteran Leadership” on this team or their “Accountability”-preaching coach

So, where do we go from here?

The natural reaction, given the blood-curdling rage that I and all of you are still feeling plus the natural tendency of the New York sports market to see our local teams as existing between one of two poles—earth-smashing, Galactus-like domination or circles of hell, ineptitude and misery that even Dante never ventured to, as of midnight tonight—is to rend one’s clothes and drunkenly race off into the night, howling like a madman that  the Blue and Orangers are careening towards the latter.

Even though you wouldn’t exactly be wrong in your assessment of the team’s current status, the added bonus is that the trade deadline is a mere 15 plus hours away and it’s natural to want to burn this mutha fluffer to the ground. Our friend in the North, James Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo Cavan suggested these possible deals:




Smart move. I’m pretty sure flaming garbage fits under the salary cap, though I probably should consult Larry Coon to be 100% sure.

I beseech you, good sirs and fellow fans; do not go down the route of WFAN-caller level hysteria and consonant-free bile. You’re a very smart bunch and I’m sure you realize that for one, this team has one (1) tradable asset—Shump. If a deal for Redick or another floor-spacer of equal value presents itself, I would hope that the team would strongly consider it, but expecting a thorough house-cleaning at this juncture is setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Plus, trades made out of panic never, ever end well and any scouts/GM’s who watched tonight’s self-induced apocalypse are going to try to rob Grunwald blinder than Morey did the Maloofs.

So don’t be that guy.

That said, this is a crossroads for this team. For all of us who thought the Toronto game or the Philly game or the Chicago shellackings were hitting rock bottom, you were wrong. This is it (I hope).

I can’t help but be reminded of an exercise from Grad School. For those who don’t know I went to a place called L’Ecole Internatione de Theatre Jacques Lecoq. It’s in Paris and though they bill themselves as a training program for theater-creators (Sacha Baron Cohen’s an alum and so are Geoffrey Rush and Gates McFadden [Dr. Beverly Crusher from Star Trek: TNG]!), around the downtown circuit, it’s pretty universally known as, “The Clown School.”  So yes, I have a graduate degree in clowning.

Anyhoo, it’s the first exercise when we began clown in the 3rd semester of the final year. Here’s how it goes. You exit the room and re-enter wearing your clown nose (No floppy shoes or balloon animals, stop snickering, ya Wisenheimers.). The entire class and the professor are seated at one side and your job/goal is to make all of them burst out into uproarious, simultaneous, gut-busting laughter.

Here’s the catch. You are not allowed to do anything to make them laugh. You can’t speak or tell a joke or do a pratfall. Nothing. You have to do literally nothing besides enter the room, stand in front of them and still make them laugh.

If you do attempt something like pull a funny face (and it’s patently obvious when one is doing something), the professor says, “Stop. Leave. Try again.” And you have to exit the room and start over.

That may sound pointless or impossible but let me tell you, it’s one of the most frightening things one could possibly imagine. You’re standing there, doing nothing, confronted by thirty faces of stony, Woodsonian silence and disapproval, with nary a semi-smirk to be found. It’s existentially terrifying is what it is

And then the miracle happens.

When you’re truly feeling like death itself, because you are completely and wholeheartedly failing, then, and only then, do they start to laugh.


You fail. Really, fail, mind you, not fake-fail-because-you-saw-the-student-before-you-fail-so-you-try-to-imitate-or-replicate-his/her-failure and are actually stewing in a pit of self-doubt, self-loathing and utterly desolate I’d-rather-be-gored-by-a-charging-boar-than-stand-here-for-a-milisecond-longer-esque despair, then, they all start giggling.  Because, watching someone else suffer and fail is funny if it’s real and genuine. That’s not Sadism or Schadenfreude, it’s the ability to see someone else’s failure as inimically human. It’s a laughter that speaks to the joy of recognition that we’re all Nietzsche’s bungled and botched and those flaws—those moments of extreme loneliness/solitude—are actually something beautiful that binds us all.

It’s called “The Flop” (Le Bide, en Français) and I regale you with this tale of snooty French clowning because I want to make the point that there is a value in utterly failing, in flopping like no one’s business, which our gang of cagers certainly did tonight.

So here we are.

The question of what happens next and whether this colossal bide leads to a moment of joy and a return, slowly but surely to the successes of November/early December or if this is merely a bunch of overpaid, spoiled, shiftless a-holes who are going to half-ass their way through the 2nd half of the season remains to be seen.

I’m hoping it’s the latter. Maybe I’m a pie-eyed fool for thinking so (and yes, I have a Graduate degree that marks me as a highly-trained fool) but I have hope. I hope that this is their rock bottom, their flop/point of no return and that the cheers and laughter and joy from a group of spectators watching this fiasco are not far behind.

After all that (and a moment of optimism your perpetually pessimistic recapper/correspondent), if you’re still miserable, here’s a photo of me from my Paris schoolboy days (lest you thought that shaggy dog story was pure fiction). Hopefully this, if nothing else, will bring a smile to your face.


Be kind to each other. We’ll do this again on Friday.

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Robert Silverman

Hey, did you know that in addition to banging the keys here and occasionally for the NY Times and at ESPN, Robert is a playwright, an actor and a wand'ring mendicant/gadfly? He also once wrestled a bear...and lost.

27 thoughts to “Pacers 125, Knicks 91”

  1. This game sucked every bit of life out of me so I don’t have much to say. You’re a very talented writer Bob. Being a Knicks fan is not for the faint of heart.

  2. Brian Cronin:
    Did you know that the Rockets can just flip Thomas Robinson for a veteran if they so choose? Say, perhaps, Josh Smith?

    Someone on Twitter mentioned that this trade was a precursor to another trade.

  3. I can’t believe that the word “anhedonic” was used in a recap. I love this site.

    Also: SHUMP SHUMP.

  4. It sounds like Redick would cost not just Shump but also a first rounder, which the Knicks can’t trade since they traded their 2014 first rounder already. I guess they can trade their 2015 first rounder, but that’d be insanity. So, in other words, Redick will likely not be a Knick (but I guess we already knew that, didn’t we?).

  5. The Honorable Cock Jowles:
    I can’t believe that the word “anhedonic” was used in a recap. I love this site.

    Also: SHUMP SHUMP.

    Does it speak poorly of me that I had to look up the definition of anhedonic??

    Shump’s FG% is now down to 32%.

  6. you can’t trade consecutive ones, right? so wouldn’t it have to be their 2016 one?

    THCJ, obviously the SHUMP SHUMP has been wishful thinking for a few weeks now. SUCK SUCK is starting to seem more appropriate every game…

  7. Shit, you’re right. Oh well!

    Honestly, when you take that into consideration, the 2016 pick is likely not a bad one to trade. Think about it, if the Knicks suck, they already have to swap picks with Denver (the absolute worst part of the Melo deal was Denver getting the right to swap picks in 2016. It was just so excessive) and if they’re good, then the pick isn’t worth much, so yeah, I guess I wouldn’t mind them trading their 2016 pick in the right deal.

    So would you trade Shump and the Knicks’ 2016 pick for Redick?

  8. Brian Cronin:
    Shit, you’re right. Oh well!

    Honestly, when you take that into consideration, the 2016 pick is likely not a bad one to trade. Think about it, if the Knicks suck, they already have to swap picks with Denver (the absolute worst part of the Melo deal was Denver getting the right to swap picks in 2016. It was just so excessive) and if they’re good, then the pick isn’t worth much, so yeah, I guess I wouldn’t mind them trading their 2016 pick in the right deal.

    So would you trade Shump and the Knicks’ 2016 pick for Redick?

    Probably not.

  9. Thomas B.:
    I’m going with 45 wins.Just don’t see the team figuring this mess out.

    Yes, the Knicks will go 13-18 the rest of the season.

  10. Also, while I enjoyed Silvermans recap, I wouldnt say the Knicks lost because of their effort. I thought the effort was pretty solid.
    The Knicks have certainly lost games this year because of effort, however.

  11. ruruland: Yes, the Knicks will go 13-18 the rest of the season.

    they’ve lost to Washington and at home to Toronto in the last five games, not a lot of sure wins on the schedule. 45 is low, but 50 might be high.

  12. The best thing about the Houston trade is that Phoenix ended up with Morris without giving up a player, so they have too many players. O’Neal might just get cut! You better believe that the Knicks would be all over that, right? The only problem would be other teams below the Knicks in the standings making a claim on him first.

  13. You know what team gives me a little hope for these Knicks? The 2010 Celtics team that started off hot, then just dropped off the face of the earth and ended up as a 4th seed. They had injury issues all year, they were old and creaky, they were losing to terrible teams at home…. It looked laughable. They got into the playoffs and pretty much nobody was discussing them as a threat, despite the fact that they had managed to get into the post season healthy. Next thing you know, they’re beating the vastly overrated 60+ win teams of Orlando and Cleveland, before losing in game 7 of the Finals to a team with the 3rd best point differential in the Western Conference.

    I know that this actual Knicks team hasn’t won anything, but all of the players on it have either won a championship or have seriously contended for one (except the rookies). Even when the Knicks were winning, Tyson Chandler has played intense defense so sporadically that it’s exciting when he goes back to his DPOY level of last year. All the nice rotation players that made the Knicks bench early in the season (Brewer, Sheed, Thomas, Kidd, Prigs) are either injured, out of the rotation, or only in the rotation because there aren’t enough bodies on to put on the floor.

    I don’t see them as the clearcut second best team in the east anymore, but I still think they’re at least even money with anyone but Miami and a properly healthy Chicago (which I don’t think we’ll see) Indiana has had terrible stretches like the Knicks too, it’s just theirs didn’t happen recently and thus doesn’t seem to matter to people for some reason. In fact, I’ll have to search for the article but I know I’ve read a statistical piece that made a strong case that it was a team’s early season work that was most predictive of post season success. It makes sense when you think about it, early in the season everyone is fresh and healthy, they’re excited about getting up for each game, their opponents aren’t tanking yet…

  14. Brian Cronin:
    The best thing about the Houston trade is that Phoenix ended up with Morris without giving up a player, so they have too many players. O’Neal might just get cut! You better believe that the Knicks would be all over that, right? The only problem would be other teams below the Knicks in the standings making a claim on him first.

    Knowing Morey that’s probably something he considered when making the trade lol. Jermaine O’Neal on either the Rockets for the stretch run makes a lot of sense, especially since I’m hearing rumors the Thomas Robinson trade was a precursor for something else, which is good because I haven’t seen anything about Thomas that makes me think he’s going to be better than Carl Landry a few years back

  15. BigBlueAL: Does it speak poorly of me that I had to look up the definition of anhedonic??

    Not at all. I learned it deep into my (now) favorite novel, Infinite Jest back in September or so. An easy word to miss in regular usage…

  16. Kidd really needs to be benched at this point. He’s shooting 19% from the floor in 24 minutes/game in February. He’s not even averaging four points per 36 during that time. I know he’s not out there for scoring necessarily, but in February we are nearly 7 points per 100 poss WORSE on offense with him on the floor. Our starting lineup of Felton/Kidd/Shump/Melo/Tyson is scoring 88 points per 100 poss in February. This is not acceptable. Since Shump is not scoring well either (UNDERSTATEMENT!!) and Felton has never been particularly efficient, it’s like we’re playing 2 on 5 on offense.

    Move Kidd to the bench. Move Shump to the 2. Put Cope in the starting lineup. Or freaking put JR in the starting lineup.

    I try not to overreact to losses, but everyone knew this was a measuring stick game. And boy did we get measured. I don’t mind losing to Indy on the road, but I do mind this team looking like D-League team. And like ruru said, I don’t think this was an effort loss. This was just an ass-kicking.

    Overall our guards are really a problem. It’s literally like they all forgot how to shoot at once. And since they still can’t guard anyone… shooting and guarding are basically like the whole game, aren’t they?

    I will take one – just one – positive from this game. I sorta feel like Shump is rounding into form a little bit on the defensive end. He still looks like he’s afraid of the ball on offense, but other than losing George on a baseline cut on one play, I thought he played well defensively. baby steps.

  17. Re: Shump’s effect on the D — arbitrarily looking at February alone, when he’s in the game our defensive efficiency is 97.8 points/100 poss which is really really good. When he’s off the floor it’s 114. Amazingly, the numbers are even better (only 82 poss) when Tyson is OFF the floor and Shump is ON — 89 points/100poss given up on D.

    Unfortunately he has a similar effect on the offense.

    I really think that either Cope or JR should be starting at the 3 and Kidd needs to go to the bench. Let him bring some order to the 2nd unit for 15 min/game — limit the damage.

  18. Ephus / Brian or whoever else – if Jermaine O’Neal is bought out, does he still go through the waiver process or is he an unrestricted FA?

  19. @Toronto
    Golden State
    @Golden State
    @Los Angeles
    @Oklahoma City

    17 road 14 home
    17 above .500 14 under .500
    18 against projected playoff teams 9 of them on the road
    8 back to backs
    I’m thinking there are 15 losses here at a minimum playing as they are right now. I can see a possibility of 18 losses. But that’s just me projecting this current style of play over the remainer of the season. Perhaps one of Woodson’s pep talks will turn everything around. I’d love to see that. Really I would because I do not think 45-46 wins will get you the Atlantic.

  20. I’ve been saying this for weeks/months now…but we need to change the starting lineup (not that that is a cure-all, but we’ve gotta start somewhere, no pun intended). Either Felton, Shump, Melo, Amare, Chandler or Felton, Shump, Melo, Novak Chandler.

    Bring Kidd, Smith, Prigioni, Novak/Amare and Copeland off the bench. Our current starting lineup is ranked 16th out of 20 in FG% differential.

    Our best lineup is Ray Felton, JKidd, Steve Novak, Carmelo and Tyson. This was clearly being impacted by those heady months in the fall where Kidd could do no wrong. So let’s use that lineup and replace Kidd with Shump. FWIW, Shump at SF is just retarded.

  21. Robert:

    Excellent rant.
    I’m thinking 1800 words. Could be more.
    All I could manage after the game was, “fuckers.”
    And then looked for the next game on the schedule.

    This is one of those games you forget. Forever. Like walling away Fortunato.
    “Requiescat In Pace!”

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