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Knicks lose St. Pat's tilt to Pacers

Nothing lets me know it's finally Saint Patrick's Day quite like walking by an obviously intoxicated group of teenage girls from Westchester, who took their fake IDs and the Metro North down to Manhattan, while they're standing outside of an Irish bar in Midtown around noon flirting with three slightly overweight and verging on middle-aged unskilled laborers wearing green and white Yankees caps. Well, nothing else except for the Knicks wearing their green uniforms.The Knicks were resplendent tonight in their green garb as they took on the Pacers in Indiana before several groups of ten and twelve people at Canseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Seriously, the place was empty.

The Knicks are officially and unequivocally just playing out the string at this point. The towel was finally thrown in last week in Dallas when Wilson Chandler went out to take the opening tip in a game in which the Knicks were entirely unprepared to compete and disinterested in the result. Perhaps they've got the mind on four-leaf clovers? Or perhaps it's the four-figures that they earn for every quarter of basketball they play, regardless of the result?

The game was close even though the team gave up an embarrassing 38 points in the first quarter. In fact, the Knicks would hang tight with the Pacers, who are still alive in the chase (or actually, it's more like a scramble than a chase, which implies forward progress) for the last playoff spot in the East. The Knicks hung tight as they usually do in spite of the fact that Mike Dunleavy again terrorized the famously dysfunctional group from the World's Most Famous Arena. He tied his career-high of 36 points, which he set earlier this year at the Garden. He shot over 50% from the field, made 4 threes, 8 of 9 from the stripe and filled out the rest of the scorecard as well. He moves with a purpose and on angles that nobody on our roster can seem to defend. He can split any two people that we throw at him and seems to be so many mental steps ahead of our defenders that they can rarely even foul him in time to keep him from releasing his shot.

In spite of Dunleavy's repeat performance, the Knicks were still in the game. Zach got his numbers. Jamal did the same and Wilson Chandler did rack up 15 points on 15 shots (with two free throws included). With 6 minutes to go in the fourth quarter Nate Robinson hit a three-pointer to pull the Knicks with 89-93. This game was up for grabs down the stretch. No doubt it. At least for the next 15 seconds. Indiana called a timeout less than a half minute after Nate's shot, Isiah pulled the guard and inserted Wilson Chandler into the lineup, the same substitution that gave away that game against the Hornets at the Garden. Chandler would miss three shots and commit two fouls as the Pacers pulled away for in the final minutes of the game while Nate, Jamal and Zach all sat on the bench.

The lack of effort by the team and the lack of effort by the coach, especially relating to the way that minutes were being doled out led MSG announcer Bob Wischusen to wonder what the team what taking from the nights like this if "to a certain extent, [they] forgo trying to win the game."

The only thing that I think I can say with any certainty that they take from nights like this is a paycheck. And, at this point it seems like for some of them that is enough. Otherwise, how could a player like Jamal Crawford who was having a break-out season and was near the top of the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring as of last month not force his way into tight games down the stretch? And, if these games are going to be turned into glorified summer league games then how come Randolph Morris still can barely get on the floor? With no satisfactory answers to questions like these I don't really know how to answer Wischusen's question other than to say that they most definitely are taking away paychecks. And, little else.

Well, unless they're allowed to keep those green jersey.