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Remember when the Knicks were “reeling” after one game? Yes, it was a thorough loss, as Indiana outplayed New York in nearly every aspect of Game 1 of this series. But the Knicks’ performance in Game 2, most especially the 30-2 (yes, 30-2) run in the late 3rd/early 4th, was astounding. Carmelo Anthony’s 11 in the 3rd translated into an icy final period – Melo finished at 13/26 for 32 points, including a reasonable 2/5 from behind the arc. It’s important to note, however, that he didn’t really heat up until the 3rd, and it was the play of Iman Shumpert and Ray Felton who kept the Knicks afloat until then. Melo’s 3rd quarter buoyed a strong push by Indiana after the half, and the 4th became a joke half-way through. Iman Shumpert’s emergence as an offensive weapon, in addition to his stout defense, has been a welcome addition, and shows that the man known as “Rook” is surely maturing – 6/10 with a great balanced scoreline, including 6 boards and 3 steals. AND DID YOU SEE THAT DUNK. Felton’s been the most consistent offensive performer so far this postseason, another double-figure performance on over 50% from the field. But it was Melo’s 50% that was most encouraging, especially in the face of another ice-cold performance from Earl Smith III. Kenyon Martin’s 10 points, on 5 of 6 in 18 minutes, was the best the New York bench could offer. In fact it was Martin’s performance which helped neutralize the play of Roy Hibbert, who had dominated the paint in Game 1.
The Pacers didn’t score their first FG in the 4th until nearly 3 minutes remaining, a drought of nearly 12 minutes of game time, speaking mostly to poor shooting, but a better overall defensive performance from New York. Indiana only mustered 7 offensive boards – it was their second chance points which had been the story of Game 1. Hibbert was held to only 6 points, and never went to the line, speaking to Tyson Chandler’s returning to form, as well as Martin’s impact. Paul George had another 50%+ night, but was limited to only 20 points, Indiana’s high scorer. Brooklyn’s Lance Stephenson was limited to <10, and his impact on the glass was held to just 4 total rebounds. The story of the game for the Knicks defensively may have been forcing turnovers, and converting points off them, earning 21 and 32, respectively. Further, Indiana was outscored in the paint by 12 points – surely Martin’s impact is felt here as well. Who’d have thought that K-Mart, out of the league all year, would play such meaningful minutes down the stretch and into the postseason?
It was a highly encouraging performance, highlighting Carmelo Anthony’s resurgence, Chandler’s continued return to form, and a better game plan against Roy Hibbert featuring Kenyon Martin. Looking ahead, Amar’e Stoudemire could be making his Knicks return for Game 3, but Indiana and New York will now wait until Saturday to face off again, from Indianapolis.