Part of the sugar used to swallow the big hike in ticket prices the Knicks announced on Friday was the fact that the team was capable of performing at a high level.
Perhaps they'd like to rethink things after Sunday evening's game against the Pacers. The Knicks played like they set their clocks back to 2010 instead of ahead one hour in a dreadful performance that left them on the wrong side of a 106-93 decision. The loss would look bad against any opposition, but against a team that had lost six straight games and was without their best player it was a slap in the face to those asked to pay more freight for the privilege of setting foot inside the Garden.
The Knicks were awful on both ends of the floor, but their total abdication of defense was most galling. The Pacers sans Danny Granger are a team without an offensive weapon, yet the Knicks ceded ground like they were facing the thundering hordes of Attila the Hun.
Tyler Hansbrough, who last dominated a basketball game when he was playing against the underbelly of the ACC, scored 29 points on a variety of totally uncontested shots and the Pacers shot 57 percent as a team. The Knicks defensive theory seemed to be one of not extending any effort so that they could get back upcourt as quickly as possible.
It's an interesting theory. Most teams believe on cutting off passing lanes, keeping opposing players out of the paint and closing out on wide-open shooters. The Knicks abstain from all these things, yet somehow still found a way to get Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire into foul trouble.
Their defensive shortcomings are not a new issue. We know this Knicks team struggles on that end of the floor. The lack of effort, though, is galling and well deserving of the boos that cascaded down from the stands.
Sadly, the offensive end offered no salve for the wounds. Chauncey Billups, back after six games on the sidelines with a thigh injury, looked out of sorts. That's understandable, but Toney Douglas, so good in his absence, also decided to throw himself into a funk. The two point guards were 5-for-26 from the floor and combined to dish out only seven assists.
One hopes that this was an isolated event, because the rise in expectations and prices makes games like this intolerable. If it isn't isolated, the timing of this price hike might wind up standing next to the Isiah Thomas extension as moments of undeserved bravado from the ownership suite that become albatrosses around the neck of the franchise.