INDIANAPOLIS — Don’t worry, an “extremely dramatic’’ change will happen by next season, according to overly optimistic Knicks owner James Dolan.
On a night when Dolan predicated free-agent coups and a deep playoff run for 2019-2020, the Knicks’ current tank machine fell deeper into the hole after building a 10-point lead in the first half Tuesday night.
Predictably they couldn’t keep that up, and lost to the Pacers, 103-98, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse despite rallying late from a 16-point deficit, and making it a one-possession game in the final 20 seconds.
Dolan, in a radio interview earlier in the day in which he defended his banning a heckler from the Garden on Saturday, said the Knicks “certainly are going to be in the playoffs and hopefully we’ll go far.’’
That, however, is next season. As for now, the Knicks, who failed to reach 100 points for a second straight game, lost their seventh straight to maintain the worst record in the NBA, now 13-55. Mercifully, there are just 14 games to go in what is shaping up as their worst season ever.
A sarcastic “Sell The Knicks’’ chant erupted for a few seconds in the first half. The Knicks, who committed 20 turnovers, finish their three-game trip Friday in San Antonio.
The Pacers began the second half on a 9-0 run capped by a 3-pointer by Bojan Bogdanovic over rookie Kevin Knox to put Indiana ahead 64-52. Bogdanovic scored a game-high 24 points as all five Pacers starters reached double figures.
The Knicks had built a 10-point lead in the second quarter behind a solid shooting first half by the slumping Knox and strong inside work by center DeAndre Jordan, who was a train wreck in the loss at Minnesota on Sunday.
Knox bagged 3-of-4 3-pointers in the half while Jordan was brutish inside, scoring eight points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field. But Knox, after scoring 13 points in the first half, wound up with 16 while committing five fouls.
Jordan committed five turnovers. Early in the fourth, Jordan controlled the ball on the low block, stood with it for a few seconds then threw a pass inside to two yellow jerseys.
The Pacers (43-25) rallied from an early hole and took a 55-52 lead at halftime. Former Knick Wesley Matthews, bought out in February after being acquired from Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, hit two free throws to snap a 49-49 tie, then scored on a fast break to put Indiana up 53-49. Matthews notched 11 points in the half. He now starts for the Pacers.
The Pacers, hanging on to fourth place despite losing their superstar Victor Oladipo for the season, improved to 26-9 at home.
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