INDIANAPOLIS -- The question on most observers’ minds prior to Game 3 was, “Will J.R. play?”
Earlier in the day, New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith had been listed as questionable, and it was reported that he had a fever that had spiked at 102 degrees. By the time of coach Mike Woodson’s pregame news conference, the fever had gone down, and Smith was trying to see if he could go.
To no one’s surprise, Smith played. “I knew I was going to play anyway, regardless of whatever was going on,” Smith said. “It’s playoff time. I think I would have played in the regular season, too. I just got to go out there and help my teammates.”
In 25 minutes, Smith managed only nine points on 4-for-12 shooting. While it would be convenient to blame it on the illness -- “a virus” is how Smith described it -- the truth is that it was a continuation of his struggles. Smith entered the game having converted only seven of his 30 field goal attempts in this series.
Smith said he did try to attack the basket more. "My shot hasn’t been falling, (so I was) trying to get to the free throw line. It didn’t really work today.”
He’ll get another shot on Tuesday, as the Knicks try to avoid falling behind 3-1 against the Indiana Pacers. Smith isn’t sure he’ll feel better, but he’s certain he’ll play. “Either way I’m going to play. It doesn’t really matter if I am (feeling better) or I’m not.”
Hibbert had 24 points and 12 rebounds. Chandler finished with nine points, five rebounds and three blocks in 30 minutes. New York was outscored by 14 with Chandler on the floor.
Many Knicks said the team failed to trap Hibbert. "We didn’t follow the game plan at all is pretty much what it comes down to," Chandler said.
BURIED ON THE BOARDS: The Knicks were outrebounded 53-40 in Game 3, and were crushed on the offensive glass, 18-10. Losing the battle of the boards might have cost the Knicks the game.
They were outscored 20-10 on second-chance points. The offensive rebounding edge allowed the Pacers to take nine more shots than the Knicks. That turned out to be crucial, as both teams shot 35 percent from the floor.
"They got a lot of offensive rebounds tonight; that's all about boxing out and going after the ball," Raymond Felton said. "We definitely have to take care of that in Game 4."