This was ugly, even before Jason Kidd’s unfortunate headband style.
That’s fine with the New York Knicks, who are winning even when they don’t look good doing it.
Carmelo Anthony had 26 points and nine rebounds, and the Knicks bounced back from their first loss of the season, beating the Indiana Pacers 88-76 on Sunday.
”Last year we let this game slip away,” center Tyson Chandler said. ”It’s definitely the maturity of the team and obviously the maturity of the players. We got a lot of vets around here that understand that these games add up. These are the games at the end of the year when you are in that dog fight and jockeying for position, these are the games that put you over or under.”
JR Smith added 13 points and Raymond Felton had 11 for the Knicks in their only home game in a span of seven games. After falling 105-95 at Memphis on Friday, the Knicks (7-1) go right back on the road to start another three-game trip Tuesday in New Orleans.
Neither team shot 40 percent, but the Knicks, perhaps sluggish after a quick turnaround following Saturday morning’s return home, built a big early lead, went up by as much as 20 and were never challenged.
”Today was one of them days where we had to do it on the defensive end,” Anthony said. ”Offensively we were trying to find it, shots that we missed that we normally make. But on the defensive end for us to be in sync the way we are right now, especially this early in the season, that’s a good thing. We want to keep building on that.”
The only thing they want to change is Kidd’s wardrobe, after watching a cut on his head force him into the headband that had its own Twitter account by the end of the game.
”Not a good look,” Anthony said. ”Today he had to do what he had to do, but we’re not going to allow that.”
Paul George scored 20 points for the Pacers, who remained inept offensively as they played without leading scorer Danny Granger. They hoped they had broken out with an impressive 103-point performance against Dallas on Friday, but managed only 30 first-half points and committed 19 turnovers in the game.
”We turned the ball over way too much,” George said. ”When you look at it, we got 71 attempts and they got 90 attempts and when you are playing a team as dangerous as New York is, you give them 20 more shots, of course you are going to get the results you got.”
David West added 14 points in Indiana’s sixth straight road loss.
The Pacers came in allowing an NBA-low 90.3 points per game but often wasting that without Granger, who is expected to miss three months with a sore left knee. They were averaging 87.8 points, 28th in the league, but were nowhere near that against a Knicks team that’s also good defensively.
”Our defense, you know, we’ve been No. 1 in the NBA right now defensively. We knew we could rely on that, but again, we’ve got to get more shots, better looks, more attempts and take care of the ball,” George added.
The Knicks led 21-18 after one behind 12 points from Anthony, whose 5-of-9 shooting looked even more impressive next to the Pacers’ 7 of 22 or the 3 of 15 the rest of his teammates combined to hit.
Kidd played only 3 minutes before he was hit in the head by Lance Stephenson’s teeth after a pump fake and bloodied while attempting a 3-pointer. He put a headband over the wound so he could shoot the free throws, wearing it in a lopsided manner that was angled more like a bonnet, even laughing himself at how ugly it looked.
”Yeah, that’s not my style,” said the 39-year-old Kidd, wearing a bandage on the right side of his head. ”I’ll leave that to the guys who like the headband.”
He made the shots, then went to the back to get seven stitches.
New York then held Indiana to 3-of-16 shooting (19 percent) and 12 points in the second. The Knicks led by as much as 12 in the period when Chandler threw down a lob pass from Felton and it was 41-30 at the break.
Kidd had a lane open for him in the third but botched the layup, adjusting the headband after the miss. The Pacers later had consecutive possessions with their own blown layup followed by an airball on a jumper.
Still, the Pacers made 10 of 14 shots in the third and trimmed what had been a 16-point deficit to nine late in the period. But Rasheed Wallace made a 3-pointer to end the third-quarter scoring, then opened the fourth with a basket and a dunk before Smith’s jumper restored the 16-point advantage at 74-58 two minutes into the period.
Notes: Knicks coach Mike Woodson said the Knicks planned to send the NBA video of the flagrant foul that was assessed on Smith on Friday in hopes of getting it rescinded. Woodson said he ”didn’t think there was much there.” Woodson was then hit with a technical foul 90 seconds into Sunday’s game. … Donnie Walsh, who has rejoined the Pacers, his longtime franchise, after spending three years as Knicks president from 2008-11, said the Knicks have put themselves in good position after the rebuilding process that he started. ”I’ve already said they’re a contending team, but to go any further you’ve got to do it. You can’t talk about it, you’ve got to do it, and that’s kind of where all the teams are,” he said before the game.