Knicks fall apart after Iman Shumpert's foul leads to overtime
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Iman Shumpert didn't want to talk about what was going through his mind. Not now. Doing so wasn't going to change anything, he said. Really, all he wanted to do was leave.
This scene inside the Knicks' locker room occurred about a half-hour after their 103-96 overtime loss to the Pacers Wednesday night, perhaps their most frustrating loss in a season that's quickly going nowhere fast.
Only this night was supposed to be different. Or so it seemed.
The Knicks were one defensive stop from beating one of the league's best teams in regulation, and they had their best defender, Shumpert, guarding Indiana's best player, Paul George, 25 feet from the basket. Things looked good for the Knicks.
But as George attempted a three from near the top of the key and Shumpert jumped toward him, arms extended as high as he could reach, a late whistle sounded, and groans echoed throughout Madison Square Garden.
Replays showed that although Shumpert barely touched George on his way down, yes, contact was made. So a foul was called on the Knicks guard at a most inopportune time for him and his team, changing the course of this game.
"I looked at the tape," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said, "and he got him on the elbow and Joey [Crawford] made the correct call."
George hit all three free throws, sending the game into overtime, and the Knicks never recovered from that play. It's been that kind of season for this team.
Shumpert said his goal was to "contest the shot," which he thought he did, and he declined to get into whether he thought he fouled George. "It don't really matter what I think or what happened," Shumpert said. "They called the foul."
But Woodson was pointedly critical of Shumpert's decision-making and effort on that play.
The Knicks coach said Shumpert -- who is best known for his stingy man-to-man defense -- "kind of lazily played" George on that particular play.
"I told Iman I'm sure they're going to give [George] the ball on the hand back, but he kind of lazily played it," Woodson said. "The worst that can happen is that he hits a three over you and it goes into overtime like it did, but you can't foul him."
Woodson and Shumpert said they discussed the option of immediately fouling George, potentially putting him on the line for two shots and taking the possibility of a three-pointer out of play.
The plan coming out of the huddle with nine seconds remaining, according to Shumpert, was, "If we saw them running a play, then get a quick foul, but if they shot it, contest the shot."
And that's what Shumpert did, only he grazed George's elbow in doing so.
"Iman being a young player, it was just a foul we didn't need at that particular time," Woodson said.