New York was out of sync at the offensive end in a 106-93 loss to Indiana at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. The Knicks (34-31) shot 36.6 percent and trailed by as many as 20 in suffering their second straight defeat following a three-game winning streak.
“The luxury about the NBA is that we get a chance to come back Tuesday and play the same team. I know in my mind I’m going to be thinking about this game and this loss,” forward Carmelo Anthony(notes) said. “I just want my whole team to be on the same page with me when we step on that court Tuesday.”
“The rhythm’s not there,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I don’t know if it’s the attention to details, the energy, but it just wasn’t right. We were off-kilter in our offense.”
Anthony struggled with his shooting for the second straight game. The four-time All-Star has totaled 43 points and made 37.8 percent from the field in his last two games after scoring 65 points and shooting 60.0 percent over the previous two.
Billups returned to the lineup Sunday after missing six games with a bruised left thigh, but missed 10 of 14 shots and finished with nine points.
With their point guard and offense out of rhythm, the up-tempo Knicks didn’t reach the 100-point mark for just the third time in 13 games. New York, second in the league with 106.4 points per game, are 6-16 when they fail to hit 100.
“Our goal was to not let them try to get a run and it worked, so we have to face this beast again and hopefully we can try to do some of the same things,” said Indiana’s Dahntay Jones(notes), who had 18 points and did a solid job defending Anthony.
While the Pacers clamped down on the Knicks defensively, Hansbrough carried Indiana at the offensive end.
The forward scored a career-high 29 points to help Indiana (28-38) snap a six-game skid and remain tied with Charlotte for the East’s final playoff spot.
Hansbrough has emerged as a major scoring threat in interim coach Frank Vogel’s system after being an afterthought under former coach Jim O’Brien.
Hansbrough has started three straight games and has reached the 20-point mark in his last four. The former North Carolina star has scored 18.4 points in his last nine contests - 10.0 more than averaged in his first 45.
“I don’t know if he’s trying to prove anything, I just think he has a motor that is really unparalleled in this league,” Vogel said. “Nobody goes harder than that kid.”
Hansbrough may get some help up front in the rematch if Granger is able to play.
Granger, who averages a team-best 20.6 points, missed his second game of the season Sunday. He had 25 points and a career-best 17 rebounds in the first meeting of the season with the Knicks, a 98-92 loss at MSG on Jan. 2.