The sight of Paul George and the Pacers brought out some fight and fire in the Knicks that they haven't shown much this season. Ultimately, they had nothing to show for it.
The night, like their Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Pacers, ended in utter disappointment for the Knicks.
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A 13-point lead early and a three-point edge in the final seconds of regulation disappeared before the Knicks fell, 103-96, to Indiana in overtime Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
It was the Knicks' fourth consecutive loss and sixth straight at home, where they haven't won since opening night. The Knicks are 3-8 overall. They didn't suffer their sixth loss at home last season until Jan. 21, and their eighth defeat came in their 28th game.
"Mentally, we're frustrated," J.R. Smith said. "You say it's too early to panic, but me personally, I'm panicking. I don't like this."
If the Knicks are going to change things, they can't have the breakdowns they continue to have.
Leading by three in the closing seconds of regulation, Iman Shumpert tapped Paul George's elbow as he shot a three-pointer. Joey Crawford called the foul and George hit all three free throws to tie the score with 5.2 seconds left.
Mike Woodson said that in the huddle he discussed fouling and said Shumpert -- who is the subject of trade rumors -- just didn't play George the right way.
"Iman, being a young player, it was a foul that we didn't need at that particular time," Woodson said. "I told Iman I was sure they were going to give [George] the ball on the hand back and he kind of lazily played it. The worst that can happen is he hits a three over you and it goes into overtime like it did, but you can't bail him out. I looked at the tape. He got him on his elbow and Joey made the correct call."
Shumpert wouldn't offer his opinion on the call. "It don't really matter what I think," he said. "They called a foul."
The Knicks still had a chance to win, but Carmelo Anthony's short turnaround jumper over George hit the back of the rim, and Smith's tip-in missed.
George was sensational and dominated the overtime, outscoring the Knicks by himself 9-7. He finished with 35 points, 21 in the fourth quarter and overtime. George Hill added 23 for the 10-1 Pacers.
Anthony had 30 points and 18 rebounds but he shot only 10-for-28. Smith added 21 points and Beno Udrih 19.
This was the first time these teams met since Indiana knocked off the Knicks in six games, and the two are going in different directions. The Pacers have the NBA's best record and the Knicks keep finding ways to lose.
Up one point in the fourth quarter, the Knicks failed to secure a defensive rebound off a missed free throw, and it led to a Hill three-pointer with 3:27 left. Following a Smith turnover and a Pacers' timeout, Hill got free on the inbounds play for a layup.
Later, with the Knicks ahead 87-86, Anthony slapped the ball away from George and fed Smith, who stepped back and took a three-pointer in transition with 19 seconds left on the shot-clock and under a minute left in the game. Smith missed it.
"We're a little snake-bitten right now in terms of getting over the hump," Woodson said.
In the overtime, George hit a pull-up jumper with 2:00 left to make it 94-91. Following a Knicks' miss, George made two free throws, but it became a three-point trip. Kenyon Martin pushed Roy Hibbert to the ground and was whistled for the foul. Hibbert's free throw gave Indiana a 97-91 lead.
Anthony scored on the next trip, but it was the Knicks' last basket until a Smith three with 10.4 seconds left.
"That's a tough way to let it slip out your hands," Anthony said. "I thought we did a great job, just from the way we played throughout the course of the game."