For weeks now, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks' coaching staff have craved better overall efforts from the players around him. And while on Wednesday night, they finally seemed to receive all that and more from many contributors, Anthony himself failed to meet such a similar standard.
The Knicks caught somewhat of a break as the Pacers' Paul George got off to a very slow start. That gave them an opportunity to find their rhythm as a team and find a comfortable pace, all while keeping the game close throughout.
Once George got going, the likes of Kyle O'Quinn (19 points), Jose Calderon (20 points) and Langston Galloway (17 points) all helped keep New York afloat, but there was no doubt they were missing Anthony's contributions down the stretch to help give them that necessary extra push.
Here's a look at some other observations from the loss...
- On a night where many things went right, the Knicks' downfall was due to their poor execution down the stretch. The three-point shot opportunities created for Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony were not very strong plays at all. One would have to think that the Knicks could have spaced the floor and created higher-percentage opportunities, especially if they chose to use Anthony as a decoy and targeted a player towards someone else with a hot hand.
- Anthony's frustrations are clearly mounting, and this time, such pressure impacted his play on the court rather than just his demeanor afterwards. As things continued to boil over, Anthony looked discouraged (and arguably downright delirious in disbelief following the last play of the game). What's more, he let his emotions get the best of him with a poorly-timed technical late in the fourth.
- Kurt Rambis shortened his rotation to nine players, which was a good move when hoping to get the team's core guys into more of a rhythm. But as the season continues to get away from them, it's important he roll the dice on New York's younger players like Jerian Grant, Derrick Williams, and even Jimmer Fredette. Obviously they were still trying to win that one in Indiana.
- It's a shame O'Quinn hasn't been nearly as consistent as he was on Wednesday all season long. Obviously, 19 points marks a season-high for him, but just the idea that he could be versatile, aggressive, and knock down the occasional perimeter jumper in transition would help the Knicks tremendously.
- The back-and-forth battle between positive contributions from Kristaps Porzngis (22 points) and Robin Lopez (4 points) continued. Lacking other strong offensive options around the perimeter, the Knicks need to figure out how to incorporate both big men to help carry them on the offensive end a bit more, especially when a guy like Anthony is ice cold.