The trade that was engineered to make Carmelo Anthony a New York Knick was precisely for games like Tuesday night’s. In the biggest spot, when his team needed him the most, the 10-year veteran got medieval on the Indiana Pacers’ defense by dropping 32 points.
In the crucial fourth quarter, Anthony scored 11 points, keying a massive 30-2 run on the Pacers, who had no answers or questions for this Knicks offense.
In spite of its size, youth and length, Game 2 illuminated the one Pacers’ weakness that relegates it to a second-tier playoff team: the lack of a big-time scorer. The shots that fell in the fourth quarter of game one, clanged off rims and backboards this time.
Indiana’s lack of top-tier scoring was evident with Paul George’s uneven performance Tuesday night. Indiana’s leading scorer in the playoffs and regular season notched only 20 points. But the Pacers needed George to score 30. He got zero in the fourth quarter.
Outside of George, the Pacers’ four other starters shot a paltry 39 percent from the field (15-38). Power forward David West, who notched 20 points on 8-15 shooting in Game 1, could only muster 13 on seven shots Tuesday night. In Game 1, reserve point guard D.J. Augustin torched the Knicks for 16 points in 13 minutes, looking like the latter day version of Detroit Piston great Vinnie Johnson. But Augustin barely had a flicker going; he scored just four points the entire game.
The Pacers did grab a two-point lead late in the third quarter on a 10-4 run. The Knicks closed out the quarter with a run of its own, heading into the fourth quarter with a six-point lead.
In the fourth, they provoked the Pacers to rush shots and commit turnovers, of which Indiana had 21 in all. The Knicks successfully countered Indiana’s size by being more aggressive.
The Knicks guards were factors (again). Pablo Prigioni and Raymond Felton were huge. The former scored 10 points, seven of them coming in the fourth quarter, igniting the run that withered the Pacers. Felton finished with 14 points of his own.
This time, the Pacers were like a kid on a big wheel trying to ride with a man on a motorcycle. The Knicks made buckets when it had to and the Pacers couldn’t.
In Anthony, the Knicks have what Jalen Rose calls “a master scorer.” The Pacers can only hope that George, who averaged 17.4 points per game in the regular season and 18.9 in playoffs, can go five to 10 points over his averages when needed. Otherwise, he’s just an apprentice and his team needs more.
Tacuma R. Roeback is a New York Knicks writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TacumaRoe, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google+