The New York Knicks weren’t going to be the team that breaks the current home winning streak the Indiana Pacers are on, as Lance Stephenson took the leading role, putting on an offensive and defensive clinic to lead the Eastern conference leaders to a 117-89 win.
The Pacers have now won nine consecutive home games, making it a 20-1 record at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season. Stephenson scored 28 points, forgetting about the “all-around” label and simply putting on a show, maybe to boost his All-Star pedigree in a desperate “battle” to win some more votes. He posed to the fans, the cameras, and seemed to be enjoying himself a lot more than usual.
If he’s flashy, he’s being flashy making basketball coach. One of our assistants said, ‘Boy, I wish I had Lance’s energy every day.’ His competitive spirit is as high as anyone we’ve coached. We understand how good we are when we run. I think that’s the best way to put and the biggest way to look at it.
The Pacers played great defense, keeping the Knicks at 40% from the field and 21.1% from beyond the arc. But it wasn’t just the defense; it was the pace that a team like the Knicks, with very little speed in their roster, couldn’t keep up with. Indiana scored 63 points in the first half, the most they’ve had in any half all season, but never seemed to really slow down during the game, while New York ran out of steam way before the clock ran out.
Paul George had another terrific performance against Carmelo Anthony, scoring 25 points. Anthony didn’t have too much of a problem with George, but wasn’t exactly getting a lot of help from his teammates. He scored 28 points, but was pretty much the only consistent scoring threat the Knicks had out there all game long.
They’re a good team, but I don’t think they’re 30 points better than our team. We were awful.
Another recurring theme was Roy Hibbert dominating the paint against Tyson Chandler, who is struggling against everyone this season (should Kenyon Martin be back in the lineup?). Hibbert had 11 points and 6 rebounds during his 27 minutes on the floor, not the flashiest of numbers, but Hibbert was never about big numbers. Big blocks? Sometimes, and he had a huge one on Carmelo Anthony in the first half, with the Knicks trying to fight their way back before heading to the locker rooms.
The Pacers are looking more dominant than ever during this 9-game home winning streak. They’re beating teams by 21.3 points a game, scoring 108.7 per 100 possessions and their offensive efficiency is nearly 7 points higher per 100 possessions compared to the 11-game home winning streak they started the season with. They’re also the first team this season to win three straight home games by at least 20 points.
There have been moments, especially in some road losses (11-6) that made it seem like the Pacers might not be that good of a team as the early part of the season made them seem like. However, if they have home court advantage through the playoffs, their road issues won’t be something that worrying after all.