NEW YORK – The defunct Twitter account of Hall of Fame inductee Bernard King left its mark on this Eastern Conference semifinals, perhaps more positive than negative for the New York Knicks.
King's Twitter account, @30BernardKing, was shut down and vanished shortly after tweets scolded the team on Monday, the day after New York dropped Game 1 to Indiana. The Knicks said that an unnamed friend of King's was the real tweeter and it was not the "sentiment" of the ex-player. Those sentiments included telling the Knicks to take high-percentage shots, don't be a one-man show and use ball movement. Most notably, the Knicks' television analyst – or his friend if you believe the Knicks – told Carmelo Anthony to drive, dish and work the paint, especially if his shoulder is ailing.
Those tweets had a lot of merit. The Knicks improved on much of the criticism Tuesday during a 105-79 hammering of the Pacers that tied the series 1-1 Tuesday.
"I found out about the alleged Bernard King tweet this morning when I got to shootaround," said Anthony, who had a game-high 32 points in his most efficient playoff game this season. "I didn't think too much about it because I know Bernard very well. And then to come to find out he was trying to reach out to me to let me know that wasn't something that he said. He just wanted to apologize about that. I didn't pay that any mind at all."
Through the five previous postseason games, the All-Star was scoring 26.4 points per game but it was on a rough shooting clip of 34.8 percent. There was no shooting from the field that reached the 50 percent mark in either contest, including a wretched 4-of-28 total from 3-point range. Game 1 against the Pacers was particularly ugly.
On Tuesday, Anthony reminded the Pacers of his offensive gifts as he scored on 13-of-26 shots from the field. He also had three assists and two steals, had a better offensive flow by getting the ball on the move, drove strong to the basket and knocked down open jumpers.
"I can't stop attacking," Anthony said. "I can't stop being aggressive on the basketball court."
Anthony made the tough shots, nailing two 3-pointers. He also took the high-percentage shots that @30BernardKing called for, including dunking hard on reserve center Jeff Pendergraph. Anthony scored 22 points in the second half and received a standing ovation from the Garden faithful when he left the game with 4:55 left in the fourth quarter and the Knicks up 92-66.
"Melo just caught fire," Pacers forward Paul George said. "He found opportunities and mismatches and he was just being aggressive."
The Knicks also answered King's twitter challenge to move the ball more and "stop heaving bad shots." New York shot 49.4 percent from the field and made 10 3-pointers. Five players scored in double-figures, including rookie point guard Pablo Prigioni, who made all four of his shots en route to 10 points. The Knicks' fans chanted in appreciation for Prigioni and for Iman Shumpert, who had 15 points and revved up his team with a mean first half put-back dunk. New York had only six turnovers to Indiana's 21 and earned 29 second-chance points. The Knicks also took 23 more shots than Indiana.
"Guys were moving the ball, guys were making shots and we were being extra aggressive on the offensive end," said Knicks forward Kenyon Martin, who had 10 points on 5-of-6 off the bench.
The tweets on King's account didn't mention anything about defense, evidence that it was probably the offensive-minded player behind the rant. The Knicks scored 32 points off Indiana's turnovers. George, an All-Star, had seven turnovers. The Pacers' starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson shot a combined 8-of-24 from the field.
"I know we did a great job of keeping those guys off the offensive glass and holding them to one shot," Anthony said. "The big key game of the game was on the defensive end and stopping them from getting out in transition and easy baskets."
With the series tied, the Knicks will be aided by three off days before playing again in Game 3 in Indianapolis. The time off will certainly help Anthony rest his ailing shoulder that is still bothering him. It also will give injured Amar'e Stoudemire some time to work out with the team in preparation for his long-awaited return Saturday. It's uncertain what Stoudemire can give after returning from knee surgery and looking rusty during Monday's practice. But the additional big body can't hurt the beat up Knicks.
"They will have another scorer in the post when Melo is now in," Pacers center Roy Hibbert said with concern about Stoudemire. "Kenyon Martin has been playing well for them. Kenyon Martin and Amar'e in there … "
The Knicks, King and King's friend are the only ones who know the truth behind the tweets. But based on the great advice it wouldn't hurt to get @30BernardKing activated and barking again.
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