INDIANAPOLIS -- Amar'e Stoudemire stood just outside the visiting team's trainer’s room staring down at a stream of water trickling from his left knee to the floor.
Stoudemire’s ice pack wasn’t the only thing that sprung a leak Thursday night. The New York Knicks’ defense folded, a team with enough poor injury luck got more bad news and the Indiana Pacers issued a beating so gruesome that many Knicks struggled to describe the damage.
"We were awful," coach Mike Woodson said. "After getting off to such a good start, guys have to come in and play. It was a total team disaster."
Carmelo Anthony’s sweet shooting helped him to an 18-point first quarter, after which the Knicks held a 31-30 lead and appeared capable of a statement win. Instead, they were blasted from that point forward in a building where New York has now lost seven straight, counting playoff games.
Anthony finished with 28 points and seven rebounds as the Pacers won 117-89 and overwhelmed New York in the paint, appearing fresher and with more bounce and gaining control of the tempo.
"It was an embarrassing loss," Anthony said. "We didn’t bring it tonight as a team. I don’t think they’re 30 points better than us. We could have played a lot harder than we did. This was a big game."
Making matters worse, backup big men Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin each sustained a sprained left ankle expected to sideline them for multiple games.
"Guess I’m the 5 now," Anthony said with a smile.
He can’t do it all, a simple reality Indiana’s players seemed to embrace, even after Anthony’s first-quarter display riled the dozens of Knicks fans in attendance.
"Carmelo will make his shots," Indiana’s Lance Stephenson said. "We just worried about blocking out the other players on the team and making it hard for them to score."
Mission accomplished. Iman Shumpert was rarely aggressive and had just two points. Tyson Chandler, in his second game back from a persistent illness that still left him coughing on the bench, is regaining his feel for the rim. Eight of J.R. Smith’s 12 points came in the second half when the game had already gotten way out of hand.
The Knicks succeeded early with precision screening. A down screen led to Anthony drawing George Hill on a cross-match. Anthony stuck a midrange jumper. Raymond Felton’s pick then freed Andrea Bargnani for a jumper on New York’s second score of the game. Martin also set solid screens, and, on one possession, a complex sequence of three picks resulted in Stoudemire’s open jumper from the foul line.
New York lost the potency of its attack as the night went on, finishing at 40 percent from the field.
"I wouldn’t say we got away from it," Felton said. "They started being more physical, taking us out of our sets and making it not as easy to run plays."
Perhaps nothing signified New York’s misery more than Roy Hibbert’s duplication of his meet-you-at-the-rim block on Anthony from Game 6 of the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals. On Thursday, Hibbert’s block of Anthony occurred with about 30 seconds left in the first half and took place on the basket at the south end of the building.
Otherwise, it was a near replay.
"He got it good," Anthony said.
Defensively, New York made no such plays, letting Stephenson and Paul George fill it up with repeated blow-bys and a general lack of toughness on the defensive end of the floor.
"We didn’t defend well," Stoudemire said. "It’s a matter of will. We’ve got to take a page out of their book to play extremely hard every game and have focus every night."
Woodson expressed a similar sentiment about the Knicks’ inability to play through adversity, and that, more than anything, is what the team seemed to think must change.
"They hit us," Woodson said. "We didn’t respond. I didn’t like that at all."