With suspended Carmelo Anthony back at the Conrad Hotel, the Knicks needed J.R. Smith to flash his recent All-Star form and Amar'e Stoudemire to flash his old All-Star form.
As the fourth quarter dawned and the game was there for the taking with the Knicks up two, Smith, playing with his 11 stitches, disintegrated in a flurry of wild misses, Stoudemire remained invisible and the Knicks missed 11 straight shots during a seven-minute scoring drought.
Anthony may have shut off his TV set in disgust as the Pacers blitzed the Knicks with a 13-2 run and stormed to an ugly 81-76 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Smith, who had the hot hand late in the third quarter, couldn't carry it into the fourth and finished with 25 points on a dreadful 10-of-29 shooting. Often playing the point, he was 2-for-8 as the Knicks (23-12) scored a sickly 16 points in the fourth and dropped their second straight and fourth in the last six games.
They host the Bulls tonight at the Garden, with Anthony back but another player going down in Marcus Camby (plantar fasciitis).
"It's tough not having that huge crutch to lean on — No. 7,'' Smith said. "We really beat ourselves. It's tough when you're missing shots to not have the one guy who can get the buckets for you.''
Stoudemire, in his fifth game back from knee surgery, didn't make progress and failed to reach double figures. He finished with nine points on 4-of-11 shooting, though Mike Woodson kept his minutes down to 21:31.
"I don't know if we were fatigued or we ran out of juice," Woodson said. "We couldn't find offense in the fourth quarter. We couldn't get anything going pace-wise. But I like how we defended."
The Knicks shot just 34.8 percent, dying for any offense. Before the game, Woodson said of Smith, "He's put himself as a sixth-man candidate as well as an All-Star guard in the East. He's played at that level.''
But there is only one Anthony, who joined the club on the team bus an hour after the final buzzer, way too late after serving his suspension for his confrontations Monday night with Kevin Garnett.
J.R., Amar'e can't pick up Pace without their leader
New York Post | Jan 11