Knicks motivated by playoff exit to Pacers
This time of year, when guys are back with their teams and camp is underway, players are frequently asked what they worked on in the offseason. The cliché response is, “everything.” Other times, players have a detailed list of items, which may have been particularly motivated by something.
For the New York Knicks, they’re still not over their second round loss to the Pacers in six games.
Last week, as camp opened, Knicks center Tyson Chandler explained that he didn’t need any motivation over the summer. He still felt the pain of being dominated by Pacers 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert in the series. Chandler, who averaged six points and six rebounds for the series (down from 10.4 points and 10.7 rebounds per game in the regular season), wasn’t much of the factor and the Pacers took the series 4-2.
“I vowed to myself I would never let that happen again,” he told reporters last week (via Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com). “I would never let my team down and be in that situation again. I’ve got to look at it like motivation, like I got my a– kicked. So next time I’m not going to let that happen.
“I’m an athlete. I’ve excelled defensively. There’s no reason I can’t excel offensively. It’s just a mindset. Defensively, my mindset is always, ‘I’m going to lock down every single possession.’ Now it has to translate to ‘OK, I’m going to be aggressive every (offensive) possession.”
Chandler, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year, wasn’t the only one still uneasy about the way their season ended.
“I’m still mad about the Indiana loss,” said Knicks guard Iman Shumpert (via Mark Berman of the New York Post).
“I’m not over it,” Carmelo Anthony stated on Tuesday. ”I may act like I’m over it, but I’m not over it at all. It’s motivation. It’s definitely motivation. I know what happened last year. I won’t forget that.”
Anthony will forever be part of a great memory in Pacers playoff history. In Game 6, with 5:05 left and the Knicks up 92-90, Anthony drove the right baseline and went up for a dunk. But Roy Hibbert met Anthony at the rim and stuffed his attempt with his left hand. From there, the Pacers outscored the Knicks 16-7 over the final five minutes to win the game and advance to the conference finals.
The memory of getting stopped at the rim is still vivid for Anthony, and he still hears about it often.
“Do I get tired of hearing it? After it was over, I didn’t watch it,” he said. “I watched the block, I watched the game. No reason to go back and look at it. He got a great block. It was a big play. He made it. We’ll see him again on the 17th [of November]. We’ll be ready.”
Anthony knows the date of their first meeting? (Well, sort of. It’s actually Nov. 20 in New York — and nationally televised on ESPN.) Last week, Pacers coach Frank Vogel was asked about their rivalry with the Bulls, for instance, and he had no idea when they were scheduled to play. Chandler, Anthony, and the Knicks are motivated, as they should be, from that series defeat.