Just when it seemed the Knicks were in for another lethargic performance, Iman Shumpert took it upon himself to ignite the home crowd, and inspire his teammates. Aside from a scar on his left knee, and constant reminders from the New York media, Shumpert’s ACL surgery hasn’t weighed on his mind since his return last January.
“If it wasn’t for [the media], I would have forgot I tore my ACL,” said Shumpert, who finished with 15 points (7/11 shooting) and 6 rebounds in Tuesday night’s 105-79 demolition of the Pacers. “As far as when I play, I don’t really think about it much.”
If anyone else needed confirmation that Shumpert was indeed all the way back to his former self, he served it up to them with an emphatic put-back dunk off a Chris Copeland missed three early in the second quarter.
“I was trying to make a statement,” said Shumpert. “It was the most perfect miss I’ve had in a long time. It was beautiful for me. I just wanted to win this game so bad.”
If the Knicks go on to win the series, now tied 1-1, they may look back at Shumpert’s play as the momentum swinger. Looking tired and unmotivated in Game 1, the Knicks came out hungrier in the second game on Tuesday, determined not to drop two-in-a-row at home. Shumpert’s refusal to let the play die when Copeland missed was characteristic of the hustle displayed by New York in Game 2 that was invisible in the series’ opening game.
A Madison Square Garden crowd – quieted by the Pacers on Sunday – found life, and more importantly the Knicks drew confidence.
“It was an amazing dunk,” said teammate Tyson Chandler. “It sparked the crowd, it sparked us. A put-back like that, it’s an effort play.”
Now the Knicks will try to carry over the momentum of their 33 point final quarter into Saturday’s Game 3 as they attempt to win back home-court. “We got to go to Indiana and get one down there,” exclaimed Chandler.
As for ‘Shump’, there’s no guarantees of victory, or any more aerial theatrics planned. He just has one thing one his mind: “Right now it’s all about winning games and [keep] advancing in the playoffs,” he says.
“I’ve waited my whole life to play in the playoffs, so I’m just living in the moment right now.”