Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management, the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.
The Knicks couldn't have asked for a better way to respond to losing Game 1 at home. They weathered the storm of the Indiana Pacers all night long and forced them into an incredibly sloppy game. And then the floodgates opened from the 3:10 mark of the third quarter until the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter. During that time, the Pacers made just one shot and the Knicks outscored them 36-7.
While that run will get the majority of the coverage from this game, the way Carmelo Anthony attacked the Pacers in the second half was incendiary. He had 22 points on 9 of 15 shooting in the second half and completely dominated whichever Pacers' defender was unlucky enough to draw the assignment. He bullied Paul George; he blew by David West. And when Roy Hibbert wasn't in the game, he dominated at the rim. He even got Hibbert with a dunk on a late rotation.
If you grit and you grind, then you too can steal a game on the road before heading back home for Game 3. The Memphis Grizzlies were fantastic in this game and kept waiting for Kevin Durant to miss so they could take advantage and continue to execute down the stretch. Late in the game, they effectively doubled Durant multiple times and either forced a turnover or got the ball out of his hands. Then it's just Kevin Martin and Derek Fisher to worry about and the second best defense in the league can handle guys like them.
Mike Conley was ridiculous with 26 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. Marc Gasol had a monster game with 24 points, five rebounds, and five assists. And Memphis dominated the offensive boards with 16. This is what the Grizzlies do and it's a lot easier when they don't have Russell Westbrook to contend with.
If you think about it, what the Thunder are doing without Russell Westbrook is pretty remarkable. In a little over a week, they've gone from title aspirations to trying to keep their head above water while they wait for Kevin Durant to pull them to shore. However, there's only so much you can do with a one-man show and not even 19 inexplicable points from Derek Fisher can help OKC eek out a victory.
Kevin Durant was phenomenal with 36 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists. But the Thunder wasted far too many possessions with Kendrick Perkins on the floor. He killed them all night. Kevin Martin killed them all night. Serge Ibaka was awful against Zach Randolph. The Thunder need guys to step up and not enough of them seem to be up to the task.
The Indiana Pacers didn't have to win this second game in New York, but going out the way they did kind of took away all of the momentum from winning the first game. They're still headed back to Indiana tied 1-1 in the series, which was probably the worst-case scenario they wanted to have heading into Game 3, but 21 turnovers that gave the Knicks 32 points can't be the way you want to execute when you have a chance to put all of the pressure in the world on the Knicks.
Indiana was beaten on the boards, in the paint, and with all shooting percentages in this game. Even though the Knicks aren't a team that turns the ball over a lot, you have to put more pressure on them and force more than six turnovers. Poor showing by the Pacers, but they're still headed back home with homecourt advantage.