INDIANAPOLIS — After a hot start to the 2021-22 season, the Knicks are in a bad way. Very bad.
After a humiliating loss at home to Toronto, the Knicks allowed Indiana to score the first 11 points Wednesday and never recovered as the Pacers racked up a wire-to-wire 111-98 victory at Grainbridge Field House.
It was an awful night for point guard Kemba Walker and not a bright one for Evan Founier as the Knicks’ new backcourt faltered. Only RJ Barrett (23 points) is playing with panache.
The Knicks (5-3) have lost two straight and head to the defending NBA champion Bucks for a Friday clash. They shot 5 of 24 from 3-point range in their first loss on the road.
Pacers center Myles Turner, a player the Knicks have inquired about, did them dirty Wednesday, drilling them early and repelling them late, racking up 25 points. Caris LeVert, the former Net in his third game back after a bout with kidney cancer, drilled the Knicks for 21 points.
Walker was terrible on both sides of the ball as Pacers’ point guard Malcom Brogdon often drove around him to the basket for 17 points. Walker registered four points, shooting 2 of 11 from the field and 0 of 5 from 3. Fournier was 1 of 5 from 3.
Julius Randle (18 points) had his moments with inside force but hardly could gain traction.
The Knicks got caught on their heels early on as Indiana broke out to an 11-0 lead after 2:45. Turner drained two straight corner 3s and first-round pick Chris Duarte drilled a 3-pointer to force Tom Thibodeau into a quick timeout.
The Knicks couldn’t eat into the deficit and Duarte drilled a straightaway 30-foot 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to give Indiana a 36-22 lead after one.
After a ragged start, Randle revved it up with two monster driving dunks and the Knicks closed to 59-50 at intermission. But Walker and Fournier, their new backcourt, had wretched first halves, combining to shoot 3 of 14.
Center Nerlens Noel made his season debut with 4:14 left in the first quarter and quickly picked up a block on Justin Holiday.
When the Knicks closed to within two, Knick killer T.J. McConnell drained a corner 3 and Pacers backup center Goga Bitadze stripped Derrick Rose for a fast-break layup, giving Indiana a 90-83 cushion with 8:55 left.
The pesky Knicks kept coming, but Domantas Sabonis ripped down an offensive rebound and fed Turner for a dunk. Then Turner drilled a 3-pointer for a 100-91 lead with 6:02 left and it was all but over.
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