INDIANAPOLIS – Maybe the Knicks should fight more often.
Instead of losing unity after Wednesday's Memphis fiasco, this season's Knicks were sharper than ever and were upset when they shut down the powerful Pacers 92-85 at Bankers Life Field House on Saturday.
Marcus Morris, fined $ 35,000 by the NBA for his role in the fight and the subsequent statement against women, was the last dagger to hit consecutive jumpers in the last 2:45. His last 16-foot run extended the lead to five points by 19 seconds, and he ended it by 28 points.
Dennis Smith Jr. was the starting point keeper for the first time this season and played with balance – with six points, six assists and three rebounds. Julius Randle scored 16 points with 17 rebounds and made a nice late pass for a Reggie Bullock layup. Interestingly, Randle's lazy pass in the last minute led to a domino effect that triggered the ugly fight.
It was Miller's second win against a club of currently .500 or better (Miami the other) and his record was postponed to 9-18. The kinks are a total of 14-36.
The Knicks set the tone early and kept the Pacers at 11 points in the first quarter – the best defensive performance in a long time. It was also Indiana’s annual low for a quarter.
With the close of trading on Thursday, reserve point keeper Frank Ntilikina had to miss his second game in a row with a groin problem.
Starting guard Elfrid Payton was in the hotel room and was suspended for the Pacers competition because of his bump on Jae Crowder, which ignited the Memphis melee. The once forgotten Smith was able to make the first start of his season.
The day after the Kristaps Porzingis blockbuster's one year anniversary, Smith played with confidence and speed, got on the track and had no sales in the first half.
Then Smith met two big show jumpers at the beginning of the fourth quarter to ward off the Pacers' comeback. Kadeem Allen, her two-way G-League player, was the reinforcement and showed the strength and stance he showed at the end of last season.
Miller said before the game that the fight was not a distraction or injury to the unit.
"Not worried at all," said Miller. "It's amazing how these guys gathered together, how they stayed together. It was really great this year. We had a great practice [Friday]The Rapture. We worked on exactly what we had to do. "
Miller wanted to work on shutting down the paint against the Pacers and achieving it with a solid, intelligent defense that threw the Pacers into a 5-in-23 quarter of the first quarter.
At half-time, none of the Knicks scored a double-digit goal, but seven players scored four or more points, led by Randles 9. The ball movements were crisp and everyone seemed sharp, especially shooter Damyean Dotson, who buried the two straight 3s late Half, make a new greeting after everyone.
But this was about defense, as the Knicks Indiana had a 38 percent lead at halftime with a 50:39 lead.
The Pacers were sensational this season as they didn't have Victor Oladipo (ACL tear) all season until he made his debut on Wednesday. It is still rusty, has a few minutes and comes from the bank. He was 2 out of 14 at night.