God I hate playing the Knicks these days. Don't get me wrong I'm not one of those Indiana fans who just turn red in the face and fire flows from their nostrils at the mere mention of the N.Y. Knicks. In fact I always admired the teams of the Knicks of the 90's and yes I am one of those rare Hoosiers who thinks that Ewing was a hell of a good basketball player.
But I hate these Knicks, not because they beat us (we'll get to that in a min.) but just because they play such a wretched form of basketball I can hardly stand to watch it. However as we found out tonight, much like last season when KryptoNate splashed down on us, they always have a punchers chance.
I can only assume that this is what Boston fans feel like when they play us.
Ok, the really crappy thing about the server being down for so long is that I wasn't able to post any odd thoughts during the win streak and now here it is after a loss. So I almost really want to hold off on this because there were a lot of good things that happened over that streak and I don't want it to be totally over looked tonight, however since I am running short on time today I am not going to have the chance to post everything I want.
Let's face it I think most of us knew this game tonight was scary because of the Knicks style of play. They are so crappy yet they have enough fire power that they can hang around with you and every now and then will catch you. Happened tonight.
You could tell coming out of the half that the team just seemed to lose a lot of energy and could not get it going. It's too bad that this had to happened tonight (for many reasons actually) but the crowd that was on hand, not huge by any means, was really into the game and was very vocal.
First and foremost I want to do something a little out of character and that is I think I am going to support Jim O'Brien 100% for the game. In fact when I met with Hicks and Gnome at the half I made it a point to tell them a story from the first half that I am not sure that they showed on TV.
Tyler was struggling, to put it mildly, and O'Brien took him out of the game. I figured that T was done for the half. Knowing that he really did not do very well on the floor I was content to accept this without question. But a funny thing happened. As soon as Tyler went to the bench Jim pulled him to the side and was talking calmly to him and I don't know what he was saying but you could visually see him pointing out spots on the floor to him. I thought, ok that's cool of him to take the time and show him. Then in just a few min. Jim put him back in but this time put him in with the starters, minus Brandon, and lo and behold the exact two spots on the floor that Jim pointed to Tyler got wide open jump shots from.
To me that was good solid coaching, not just to show him the spots on the floor but to put him in with a different group where he did not feel the need to be the sole offensive weapon.
Also there were two times that I thought Jim's head was going to explode over two missed passes by D. Jones. One time he missed Roy in the post and you could hear Jim yell at him where I sat telling him to start looking for Roy and another time on a break he had two players flanking him (I think it was Watson and Ford) and he did not pass. Jim was yelling at him and pointing his fingers to his eyes and then out to the sides saying look around you. In fact I think if he thought he could just give him the finger at that point I'm not sure he wouldn't.
Look guys I have been more than happy to listen to the calls for O’Brien’s scalp and there were times over the past two seasons that I was all for it.
But to lay this one at his feet tonight, to me anyway, is just not right. Sure there could have been different lineups used at different times, but nothing was working in the 4th. In fact we could hear him yelling at players to move on offense as everyone just stood around on the perimeter.
He certainly has his faults and I am not saying he doesn't deserve some of the blame for this one, but let's not go over board either.
Now on the other hand the award for Turd of the night goes to Brandon Rush.
I have not heard any of the post game or read all of the threads about the game so I am just going to give you my thoughts on this.
BTW, no matter what I say or how bad I say it I am not holding a candle to the heat that Diamond Dave was throwing BRush's way both during and after the game. If he had his way we would all have met Brandon outside the Field house and provided him with an escort to Ft. Wayne where he would be the starting two guard for the Mad Ants (and still not lead them in scoring either).
Look believe me I get it, we need defense. I love defense, you can't win without it.
But you can NOT have your starting shooting guard score 3 freaking points while playing over 26 min. in a game. By any chance does he have a no drive clause in his contract? 7 of his 9 shots came from behind the arc which I guess I could understand if he wasn't shooting .29% from there before this game.
Also why do I get the feeling that he has to be treated with kid’s gloves and everybody is walking on egg shells about him? The one three that he got was because Danny gave up an open shot down low to force feed him a shot.
His defense is very good but players in this league are going to score, so you have to be able to give them something back as well. After tonight’s game he will be avg. 5ppg for the season. Now think about that for a good while and then ask yourself can you really afford to have your two guard, wing player or whatever score that many points in a game? If Brandon would have just scored 11 points (I don't think that is too much to ask for a starting caliber two btw) we would have won.
Now don't get me wrong, he was not the only reason we lost. As I said with O'Brien there is plenty of blame to go around, but I can't help but start with Brandon. It was so bad at the end of the game that when Danny fouled out that instead of Brandon Rush being called on he went with the rookie and I had a hard time coming up with any logical reason not to.
I hate having to say bad stuff about Ford tonight. In fact I almost want to skip this because I think T.J. has become the poster child on here for people just picking up a trait of a player and then never giving up on it and not acknowledging when there is any growth or change.
So I'll get this out of the way quickly. He sucked in the 4th towards the end. Now there were times he drove and the lack of movement by other players got him stranded but he should not have left his feet or driven so deeply without being sure the other players were moving as well.
But I want to be clear about something though. Since the second half of the Denver game up until the mid point of the 4th quarter tonight T.J. Ford has played excellent basketball for us. His defense had been above average and he was helping move the offense along quite well. Sadly with the outage I don't know if anybody was recognizing this and of course the one game we are going to talk about he did not really excel at. But I'm saying he was great in several of those wins.
D. Jones had an unbalanced night tonight. Hard nosed defense as always and his offense again was great. But he had too many turn overs and he had a few plays that no one will get a turn over for but he cost the offense an easy shot because he does not look around with the ball enough.
I still love his fighting not going to back down spirit that he brings to the floor so even when he has a night like tonight I can almost always over look it because I think he brings more to the table than he takes.
Roy Hibbert is just getting better and better. When they went to that 2-3 zone in the second they really put the screws to Roy but no more so than his own team mates did for not moving without the ball. BTW, Danny and Roy are really becoming very good at that PnR that they run.
I can't complain about Roy because this guy is giving us everything he has and much like the Borg every time somebody hits him with something new he seems to adapt and the next time it either doesn't work or doesn't work as well.
His rebounding has been what has impressed me the most. I always new he was going to be able to score (how many I wasn't sure) but I had made myself content with the fact that he was going to be another in the long line of Pacer centers who could not rebound. Man has he made that ever a wrong thought.
Ok, a quick break in our Pacers talk for a moment.
I know his stats for the season are good, in fact very good, but the fact that Danilo Gallinari earns a paycheck in the NBA makes me want to scream. Every time I see him he is absolute garbage. That is all.
Now back to the Pacers.
Earl Watson had a crappy night from the floor. Good to great defense and fairly solid with the ball. I can only assume that prior to the game that he and Brandon had a bet to see who could shoot the higher % of their shots from behind the arc and both were losers.
Solomon Jones continues to give us decent big man min. off of the bench. I never understood why so many thought that he was going to come here and be put on the inactive roster. I mean he's not the greatest backup on the planet but I think there are plenty of nights when he truly helps us. I know against Boston he hit a couple of shots that helped keep our momentum going and killed a run by them.
What I like about him though is that he is not afraid to body up and obviously as E. Curry found out tonight he is not going to back down from players who are bigger or stronger than he is.
I mean you would like to get a little more out of him than we did tonight, 2 points 2 boards and 2 blocks isn't great in 15 min. of time, but for the season I like what he is bringing.
Tyler has struggled the last few games and again tonight I want to say that I thought he didn't play well but then you look up and see that he had 14 points and 5 boards in 20 min. of action and you have to ask what more do you want from a rookie? Well obviously 8 more points tonight would have helped, but overall I still think he is coming along pretty nicely and again I really liked what I saw from Jim with him during the game.
Danny Granger.....for a moment there I thought I was going to witness another 40 plus point game from the man. However several factors made that impossible not the least of which was N.Y. rushing him every time he got the ball in the second half. I'm not worried about Danny though.
In fact I'm not that worried about this game in general. Sure it sucks to lose and yes I hate losing to a team of gimmicks but at the end of the day it’s just another loss no more or less than any other. So we need to put this one behind us and try and get ready for Cleveland.
The reason I am not very pessimistic about this is because after the first three games of the season I pretty much was thinking we would never sniff the .500% mark the rest of the season let alone be one game over it going into the game vs. the Cavs.
Also they are just playing better and that really is what I am looking for. Growth for the future and be competitive now.
Now let's end this with a fresh fruit basket.