Knicks suffer epic collapse in loss to Pacers

722612.jpg

Knicks suffer epic collapse in loss to Pacers

From Comcast SportsNet
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The matchup was reminiscent of the classic Pacers-Knicks games from the 1990s. The crowd was electric, the action was chippy, Reggie Miller jerseys were plentiful, and Indiana rallied from a seemingly hopeless deficit to win. Danny Granger played the role of Miller, scoring 14 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Pacers rallied from 17 points down late in the third quarter to take a 112-104 victory on Tuesday night. Granger made all three of his 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, a fitting performance one day after Miller was announced as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame's 2012 class. Miller, one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in NBA history, was known for clutch shooting and leading comebacks. He saved his most spectacular performances for the Knicks. "I guess it was from one shooter to another, my tribute to Reggie Miller," Granger said. Area 55, designated for Roy Hibbert fans, was filled with more No. 31 Reggie Miller jerseys than the usual No. 55 Hibbert jerseys. Fans in that section at one point unveiled a banner resembling the one that hangs in the rafters honoring Miller. Chants of "Reg-gie, Reg-gie" rang out from that section before the game, but in the fourth quarter, those chants became "Dan-ny, Dan-ny." Granger has scored plenty of points in his career, he wants the reputation Miller has -- that of a winner. "It's playoff time," Granger said. "We need momentum going into these playoffs. For the first time in a lot of years, we have a really good team and can make a lot of noise." Paul George scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and reserves Leandro Barbosa and Dahntay Jones added 12 points each for the Pacers. Carmelo Anthony scored a season-high 39 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Knicks. Landry Fields scored 15 points and Tyson Chandler added 12 points and 14 rebounds for New York, which fell to 9-3 under interim coach Mike Woodson. Anthony said the loss was inexcusable. "I think we got a little bit complacent being up 17," he said. "They stuck with it, they played harder coming into that fourth quarter. They played harder." New York is battling for a playoff spot without two of its best players. Forward Amare Stoudemire (back) missed a fifth straight game, and point guard Jeremy Lin is out for the regular season after having surgery on his left knee. The loss stung considering the fourth-quarter collapse and the fact that the Knicks nearly stole one on the road short-handed. "It was just unfortunate," Anthony said. "We can't have that." Indiana led 101-93 in the fourth quarter before New York rallied. A three-point play, then a 3-pointer by Anthony cut Indiana's lead to 101-99. The Pacers led 106-102 and New York had another chance to get close. Anthony's 3-pointer from the left wing was off and Paul George rebounded. George was fouled and made two free throws. George then stole J.R. Smith's inbounds pass and dunked. On New York's next offensive possession, Smith threw Barbosa to the ground, was called for a flagrant 2 and ejected. New York finished the first half on an 11-2 run to take a 59-51 lead into the break, and the Knicks quickly pushed the lead to double figures at the start of the third quarter. A three-point play by Baron Davis bumped New York's lead to 13 before Indiana rallied. Indiana's David West got loose on a fast break, and made a basket as he was undercut by New York's Iman Shumpert. West converted the free throw to cut New York's lead to eight points, and a jumper by George Hill drew Indiana within six. New York rallied, and a 3-pointer by Steve Novak pushed New York's lead to 87-70 in the final minute of the third quarter. Indiana opened the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run. A layup by Granger cut New York's lead to 89-80, got the crowd back into the game and forced New York to call timeout. Indiana continued its run after the timeout. A free throw by George cut New York's lead to one point, and Granger's 3-pointer with 6:35 to go tied the game at 91. "They made a huge run on their home court," Anthony said. "They tried to make one last push, which they did. Even though we were up, it seemed like we were battling uphill the whole time." A lineup switch in the second half keyed Indiana's comeback. The Pacers moved George from shooting guard to small forward and Granger from small forward to power forward to give Anthony a tougher matchup. Anthony was playing power forward because Stoudemire was out, and Indiana's usual power forwards, West and Tyler Hansbrough, couldn't keep up. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Granger accepted the challenge. "He was dominant on both ends," Vogel said. "He really manned up and guarded Carmelo at a very high level." Granger wasn't too upset with Anthony's point total. "Carmelo, it's hard to stop him completely," Granger said. "I just wanted to make his shots difficult for him. Even the shots he made, just make them tough shots. He got 39 points, but we got the win." Notes: The Pacers wore their alternate gold uniforms. ... Indiana matched its win total of 32 from 2009-10, Jim O'Brien's last full season as coach. ... Novak's 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter tied the game at 31. ... Indiana University coach Tom Crean attended the game.

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

celtics-al-horford.jpg

Sixers' success against C's defense shows Boston still has room to grow

Avery Bradley was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive first team a year ago. And Al Horford has been among the league’s best interior defenders for a number of years.

But as talented defensively as they may be, the Celtics are still learning how to play with each other as well as off of one another.

Injuries have slowed down the chemistry developing as quickly as some might expect. Horford missed nine games due to a concussion, and another game due to wife giving birth to their second child, Alia Horford.

And in Boston’s 107-106 win over Philadelphia on Saturday night, defensive chemistry -- not only among Horford and Bradley, but with all of the players -- remains a work in progress for sure.

Boston had a number of defensive issues in the first half which factored in the Sixer shooting 46.1 percent from the field while shooting 9-for-18 from 3-point range.

But the second half was an entirely different story as Boston’s defense picked up his intensity and focus level which would prove to be just enough to beat a scrappy Sixers team.

The Celtics (12-8) are four games over .500 for the first time this season currently have the third-best record in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland (13-5) and Toronto (14-6). 

And while the players point to a handful of games that they felt they gave away, Avery Bradley reminds all that the success of this team this season has for the most part come with key players out of the mix or limited in some capacity.

“We haven’t played that many games with the full roster,” Bradley told reporters after the win. “We’re still learning how to play with each other.”

Bradley pointed out a moment in Saturday’s victory where a miscommunication between him and Horford led to a defensive miscue.

Boston has had similar mistakes made on offense this season, too.

“We haven’t really been in pick-and-roll that much,” Bradley said. “Every single game we need to improve.”

And that improvement has to continue evolving on the defensive side of things for this team to achieve its goals this season which include being among the last teams standing in the East.

Doing that will likely mean Boston re-establishing itself as a defensive force, something that should come with time and experience playing with each other.

Horford, who signed a four-year, $113 million deal with Boston in the offseason, says it’s an ongoing process for all involved.

“I have to learn to play with our concepts, the guys have to learn to play with me,” Horford told reporters after Saturday’s win. “We just have to make sure we keep playing the right way, be more consistent with that. I feel like we’re getting better but there’s still some work that we need to do.”

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

celtics-isaiah-thomas.jpg

Stars, studs and duds: Thomas churns out another strong fourth quarter performance

The pressure that comes with a tight game in the fourth quarter can be a weighty proposition for some NBA players.

Then there’s Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who continues to save his best work for the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s 107-106 win at Philadelphia had yet another Thomas-like finish for the Celtics as the 5-foot-9 guard was at his most dominant state in the game’s final minutes.

Thomas finished with a season high-tying 37 points which included a stretch in the fourth in which he scored 12 straight.

“I just love the fourth quarter,” Thomas told reporters following the win. “I just want to win. Whether it’s making plays for myself or making plays for my teammates, it’s about making the right play. I get ultra- aggressive in that fourth quarter. That’s what I’ve always done.”

And his teammates appreciate how Thomas elevates his play in the game’s most pivotal moments.

“A lot of the credit is to Isaiah, how he was able to finish the game tonight,” said Avery Bradley. “He was able to make shots when we needed him to.”

And while Thomas knows his shots won’t fall all the time down the stretch, his fourth quarter mentality does provide him with a level of confidence that no matter what the defense does to him or what the score may be, he can swing the game’s momentum in his team’s favor.

“Some guys get a little tight, they get a little timid (in the fourth quarter),” Thomas said. “I embrace it. I want to be great. I want to be somebody my teammates can call on when the game is close.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Saturday night’s game.

STARS

Isaiah Thomas: There was no more dominant player on Saturday night than Thomas. He finished with a game-high 37 points along with seven assists.

Dario Saric: It was a breakout game for the 22-year-old rookie who led the Sixers with 21 points as well as 12 rebounds for his third double-double this season. Both his points and rebound totals tied his career highs in those categories.

STUDS

Avery Bradley: Boston’s surge towards victory did not kick in until the third quarter which is when Bradley elevated his play offensively. In the third he scored 10 of his 20 points on the night, to go along with a team-high nine rebounds.

Ersan Illyasova: He finished with 18 points which included a pair of three-pointers in the closing seconds of the game. He also grabbed six rebounds and two assists.

DUDS

Celtics first half defense: There wasn’t much to like about Boston defensively in the first half. The Celtics struggled to take away or limit Philadelphia’s only strength Saturday night which was three-point shooting. The Sixers nailed nine of their 18 three-point attempts in the first half in addition to hurting the Celtics’ transition defense which gave up seven fast-break points to Philly compared to Boston scoring just one point in transition.