There were times during the New York Knicks' visit to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday during which the Knicks looked the better, crisper, more motivated team. However, most of those moments came in the second and third quarters, and when the horn sounded, the Knicks found themselves on the losing end of a game that could be yet another huge turning point in this most tumultuous of seasons for New York. A 17-point lead wasn't enough as the Pacers poured in 40 fourth quarter points to knock off the Knicks and drop them back to the .500 mark at 27-27.
Carmelo Anthony had his best scoring game of the season, scoring 39 points on 17-of-31 shooting, but the offense wasn't the problem for the Knicks. Sure, they became stagnant in a fourth quarter in which they only scored 17 points, and the rest of the roster largely struggled from the field. But the Knicks seemed to lose their composure and defensive intensity in the final quarter, allowing Danny Granger to score 14 of his 27 overall points.
Both teams came out of the gate on fire as the first quarter ended 31 apiece. As the shooting tailed off on both sides, the Knicks were able to open up an eight point lead heading into halftime, finishing the second quarter on a 15- run. In the third quarter, the Knicks ran everything through Anthony and had success. He looked as good and as fluid as he has all season, posting up his defenders, making jumpshots over them or driving right past them for high-percentage shots. But the Knicks let their foot off the gas just a bit and weren't able to ratchet it back up, leading to the poor fourth quarter.
It seems to be an unpopular view among Knicks fans, but the type of offense the Knicks ran tonight - through Anthony, posting him up, isolating him with mismatches - is what will serve the Knicks best the rest of the way. As long as Jeremy Lin and Amare Stoudemire are out injured, Anthony will be the unquestioned main guy. If the Knicks are to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks for the final spot in the playoffs, the offensive performance they showed tonight will likely do.
The defense? That will have to improve.