Forgettable fourth dampens Pacers semifinal trip to New York
NEW YORK – Over and over-over and over. Again and again the same way.
It’s not totally unique, but at this venue it is.
Madison Square Garden, like a few in the NBA, have a live organ player to deliver some music during games.
Whenever the opposing team goes on offense, two simple notes are played. The first is low, the next is high. Played three times in a row, it then goes up in pitch and speed as the shot clock winds.
Meanwhile the crowd chants “De-fense, De-fense, De-fense” and this pattern is repeated dozens of times during a game.
It really had some meaning for the Pacers on Tuesday night in Game Two after George Hill gave the Pacers just their second lead of the game at 64-62 late in the fourth quarter.
After that, the Knicks took that common chant to heart.
“They brought it to us,” said guard Lance Stephenson of the New York defense Tuesday night. “They took away our airspace and played smart.”
In the last 12 minutes they were downright suffocating.
For the first six minutes of the quarter the Knicks held the Pacers scoreless, turning half-dozen point lead at the end of three into two dozen before it was all said and done.
To think that just a few minutes earlier the Pacers were in position to cap what would have been a bit of an improbable two-game sweep of the Knicks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
“We got back into the game in the third quarter. We just stalled out,” said forward David West-whose Pacers were outscored 33-13 in the final 12 minutes of a 105-79 loss to the Knicks Tuesday night.
Before that the Pacers had overcome 12 first half turnovers to cut a once 13-point Knicks first half lead down to five before the break. Early in the third they continued that momentum, cutting down the turnovers a bit and grabbing the lead on two different occasions.
But following a timeout by Vogel after the Hill three, Indiana collapsed.
The Knicks seized the momentum, outscoring the Pacers 10-2 to end the quarter.
It exploded from there as New York opened the fourth with 20 consecutive points to turn it into a laugher.
“We take a lead in the third and I thought we were under control, had this game under control. Just didn’t close the right way,” said West. “They just picked up the pressure a little bit and we were careless with the basketball.”
Twenty-one turnovers will make him say something like that, yet Roy Hibbert knew something like this could happen and looks forward to the journey of a series that will reconvene in Bankers Life Fieldhouse for Game Three.
“We knew that we weren’t going to sweep or anything like that, they’re too good of a team,” said Hibbert of the Knicks. “So we’re just going to have to grind it out and make sure we take care of home and then come back here.”
When they do, they hope to keep those “De-fense” chants a little quieter down the stretch.