The good feeling of their first victory in more than two weeks didn’t last long for the Indiana Pacers.
Actually, it didn’t even last 24 hours.
The Pacers, a night after snapping a season-high eight-game losing streak, sustained not only their most one-sided loss of the season, but their most one-sided loss in 23 seasons Sunday night when they lost to the New York Knicks, 132-89, in Madison Square Garden.
“We didn’t play well, but it’s just one game, one-82nd of the whole season,” Pacers swingman Mike Dunleavy, Jr., told the Indianapolis Star.
“At the end of the day, it’s no different than losing by one at the buzzer. That’s how I think about it.”
The Knicks were dominant early and stayed that way, leading 38-16 after the first quarter and 74-42 at halftime before extending the lead to 107-62 entering the fourth quarter.
New York didn’t play its starters in the final period.
“We didn’t have the weapons or the legs to compete with the Knicks tonight,” Pacers coach Jim O’Brien told reporters afterward. “They trapped (center) Roy (Hibbert) early and took our best scoring option away, and when we went outside we didn’t make any threes.
“It was a long night, and it’s back to work tomorrow.”
O’Brien added, “It’s not fun to get behind 15 to 20 points early on in the game, and we’ve found ourselves digging holes early in games. Generally we fight back and make it a ballgame, but we did not again have the energy or the legs to get back in the basketball game.
“We just didn’t have what it took tonight.”
The Pacers, playing the second game of a back-to-back, lost for the ninth time in 10 games, and for a 20th time in the last 25 games.
“I think we came into the game and we just didn’t do what we were supposed to do from the start,” Hibbert said. “The Knicks are a team that can change and extend a lead in a minute. They played an extremely good game today. I think we need to go home and figure out what happened in those first five minutes.”
The Pacers used the same lineup they used Saturday in a 122-111 victory over Minnesota, with Luther Head scoring 18 points, Dunleavy scoring 12, rookie A.J. Price scoring 11 and veteran forward Dahntay Jones adding 10.
“It was tough to see a game get out of control like that,” Pacers guard Brandon Rush told the Star. “It started off with the first five to 10 minutes of the game. They put on a big lead and kept it the whole game.”