INDIANAPOLIS – A sick feeling is emanating through the New York Knicks.
The offense is struggling, their playoff hopes teetering, and key players are missing practice.
Thats not how coach Mike Woodson intended to spend Sunday afternoon after an abysmal Game 3 performance that left the Knicks in a 2-1 hole and in a precarious position heading into Tuesday nights game at Indiana. Two of his top players – guard J.R. Smith and forward Kenyon Martin – didnt even make it to the workout because they were ill.
Weve got to be careful that this thing doesnt spread and other guys start dropping so we kept them back at the hotel, Woodson said.
Theres no telling whether either player will return in time to have influence on Game 4, which has become essential for the Knicks to keep their playoff drive alive.
Something is clearly wrong with the sickly shooting Knicks.
On Saturday, New York made just 35.2 percent from the field, and its vaunted three-point shooting vanished as the Knicks went 3 of 11 from beyond the arc. The result was a stinging 82-71 loss in which the Knicks flirted with a franchise record scoring low. The record is 67. New York didnt top that until Martins dunk with 1:39 left in a game that had already been decided.
NBA scoring champ Carmelo Anthony finished with a team-high 21 points but managed only two of those points in the fourth quarter, when he was 0 of 3 from the field.
Smith, the NBAs top sixth man, played just hours after spiking a 102-degree fever that nearly kept him out. He wound up making just 4 of 12 shots to actually improve his shooting percentage in the first three games. Hes 11 of 42 from the field in the series.
The Pacers actually shot worse than New York, making only 35 percent of their shots, but pulled away for their fourth straight home win in the playoffs because they forced 15 turnovers, outrebounded the Knicks 53-40 and outscored New York 20-10 on second-chance points.
Coach Frank Vogel couldnt have asked for much more, so on Sunday, he gave his team a day off. But with a second chance to take a commanding lead in the series, the Pacers view Saturdays victory as just a starting point.
Theyre a tremendously talented team, center Roy Hibbert said. With Game 4, we always have a mindset that theyre going to be perfect.