Pacers 45, Knicks 40 (halftime)

How’s this for looking for a silver lining : apparently, open criticism of the Knicks is suddenly welcome at the World’s Most Fucked Arena. After last night’s miserable display against the Hawks (Channing Frye and Jamal Crawford exhibiting the marksmanship of Dick Cheney, the otherwise decent Eddy Curry characteristically reticent on the boards), Al Flip Your Trautwig was apoplectic in his postgame remarks.

Perhaps that’s overstating things. At least he admitted the Knicks played poorly. By hometown teevee standards, it was close enough to venting.

During tonight’s turnover fest, a fellow 4 rows in front of me (behind the 8th ave. basket) had a series of poorly designed signs bearing the legends, “STEPHON MARBURIED THE KNICKS,” “TRADE MARBURY,” and most curiously, “ISIAH, DID YOU SKIP CHEMISTRY IN SCHOOL?”

He’s not been asked to sit down by Garden security, presumably because the paying customers would prefer the obstructed view.

The entire Knicks lineup save for Curry is handling the ball as though Stephen Jackson has them at gunpoint. Which he might, though I don’t think it would be neccessary.

Henrik Lundqvist is in attendence tonight. Suffice to say, his seats are better than mine, and his jacket is nicer as well. OK, he might be a bit better looking too, if you go for that type.

Spike Lee is wearing a Nate Robinson away jersey — not a game worn model, however, as it looks a little small on an adult.

Between the Knicks City Kids, the Thunderstix and the halftime children’s talent show, Dolan’s MSG has all the charm and panache of the planet’s most overpriced state fair. “Here at the World’s Most Famous Arena, we don’t boo our kids,” intoned the tannoy announcer. So cheer up, Mardy Collins, you’re off the hook (at home, anyway.)

That said, the video vingette where Renaldo Balkman insists he’s as handsome as Denzel Washington might be the only shared moment for Knicks fans this season that doesn’t provoke rage or apathy. You’re beautiful inside, Renaldo, and that’s all that matters.

(UPDATE : Pacers 59, Knicks 47, 8:26 left, 3rd quarter. Channing Frye has a fascinating strategy for dealing with Al Harrington’s outside shot. Frye seems to be of the opinion that giving Harrington as much time and space as he requires will prove unnerving. And Channing might be on to something. I’m pretty sure that Harrington will miss at least 25% of the time.)

(UPDATE DOS : Pacers 81, Knicks 76, 9:57 left. Eddy Curry’s been man-like in the paint, which should please his assertiveness trainer, Dr. Isiah Thomas. Nate Robinson hit a 3 at the end of the third quarter to narrow Indy’s lead to1, and as you might expect, Nate The Gr8 (above) celebrated like he was Kenny Rogers, circa October ’06. Still no answers for Harrington, though, routinely treating the Knicks like Cablevision treats their customers.

Sorry I arrived late — I missed the ceremonies where Joel Hunt’s no. 12 was hung from the rafters.)

Last word on this mess : Pacers 109, Knicks 95. The uncontested jumpermania had a late convert in the form of Sarunas Jasikevicius, and the sloppiness ensued from both sides, New York especially. Marbury was 1 for 9 from the field, threw a couple of passes to invisible teammates down the stretch, and was hit with a rather quick technical in the 4th quarter (as was Eddy Curry, who looked like he was mugged from my vantage point…squinting between the anti-Stephon/Isiah placards). The chants of “Fire Thomas” didn’t quite rise to a crescendo, mostly because the well heeled types were running for the exits with a few minutes left. I’m not sure what such a move would accomplish as long as JD (of JD and The Straight Shot) is still the owner. Besides, Knicks fans don’t know dick about how to organize a real fan revolt. Neither do these people, but I like the sound of it just the same.

Postgame, a straight-faced Channing Frye told NY1 the Pacers deserved credit “for hitting some tough shots,” and I can’t disagree. The basket was at least ten feet high.