And they call the racetrack across town the Brickyard?
The visitors brought a Mason to Market Square Arena Saturday afternoon--forward Anthony Mason--proving that they must have known it would be bad. But no one could have imagined it would be this bad: Patrick Ewing scoring one point and missing all 10 of his shots and the New York Knicks setting an NBA playoff record for offensive futility while losing to the Indiana Pacers, 88-68.
It was bad even by the Knicks’ standards as they saw their lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals shrink to 2-1:
--Their 68 points were the fewest in the playoffs since the shot clock was introduced in 1954-55.
--Their 34.3% was the lowest shooting percentage ever against the Pacers in an NBA playoff game.
--The one point by Ewing was a career low, postseason or otherwise, and is believed to be the first time he has ever gone an entire NBA game without a field goal.
“I thought we defended pretty well,” Pacer Coach Larry Brown understated.
Indiana defended so well that even its free-throw defense was great. New York made only 21 of 39 attempts, or 53.8%. The Pacers shot almost that well from the field, 49.2%.
But, yeah, it was the defense.
Brown called it the Pacers’ best defensive game of the season, but that can probably be pinpointed to one area, Ewing, after he had scored 28 and 32 points in the first two games. They had double-teamed him both times at Madison Square Garden, but made an adjustment Saturday by sending a second player to the post sooner, intending to force him to pass more often and hoping ultimately to slow him down. What they got instead was a complete stop.
Ewing missed all three of his shots in the first quarter and four more in the second, although the Knicks led at halftime, 39-37. The second half brought another obstacle, foul problems, his third coming only 51 seconds into the third period. He had to come out, and the Knicks collapsed, making three of 12 shots from the field and seven of 14 from the line while he was on the bench.
By the time Ewing returned to start the fourth period, the Knicks trailed, 62-52, and their superstar center was being outscored by LaSalle Thompson, 2-0. The Pacers played Haywoode Workman and Lester Conner together in the backcourt for the first time this season and surrounded them with the likes of Kenny Williams, Dale Davis and Thompson--the definition of the phrase “makeshift lineup"--and increased their lead.
Ewing picked up only one more foul the rest of the way, going nine minutes in the final quarter and 28 in all, but he was still of little use to the Knicks. He closed by missing three more shots before leaving with 3:23 left.
“I look at the shots he took,” Brown said. “I don’t think they’re the kind where you go 10 for 10 on those shots. But I certainly never thought I’d coach in a game where he scored one point.”
Get in line.
“I’ve never seen that before in my life,” said Antonio Davis, the Pacers’ backup center and power forward. “I’ve watched Patrick Ewing through his college years and the pros. He’s a great scorer and is tough to defend. You never think you’re going to see him score just one point.”
Ewing was humbled but not distraught. And certainly, he noted, not embarrassed.
“They pay me to be the hero and they pay me to be the goat,” he said. “I guess I was the goat today. There will always be days like this.”
It’s just that for Ewing, they tend to come once every couple of decades. The last time he was limited to one point, he recalled, was in his first high school game in Massachusetts, where he was coached by Mike Jarvis, now at George Washington.
Postscript: In high school, Ewing redeemed himself the next game, going for some huge numbers he doesn’t exactly remember. The Pacers will keep that in mind heading into Game 4 Monday, when they will either even the series or fall into a 3-1 hole heading back to New York.