Knicks break down in season-opening loss to Pacers

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It started all so swell for Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks.

A club that was not touted for scoring exploded for 66 points in the first half and RJ Barrett started his second season with a big bang, making his first eight shots in the season opener.

But rookie backup point guard Immanuel Quickley was lost for the second half with a hip pointer and all the electricity short-circuited with that injury.

After taking a five-point lead at the intermission, the Knicks went down with a whimper in the final two quarters as the Pacers routed them, 121-107, in a season-opening defensive dud Wednesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The Knicks scored 41 points in the second half as they played oddly detached down the stretch in Thibodeau’s Knicks head-coaching debut.

The major bright spot was Barrett, who finished with 20 of his 26 points in the first half with eight rebounds and five assists.

Indiana center Damontas Sabonis pummeled the Knicks for 31 points as the Pacers won their ninth game in 10 tries against the Knicks.

Quickley came off the bench for starter Elfrid Payton and was a plus-5 in 12 minutes before suffering the hip pointer in a collision with Myles Turner.

Quickley didn’t play in the second half and Thibodeau used no point guard for a stretch of the third quarter when the game got away from his club. Thibodeau finally turned to Frank Ntilikina to start the fourth and he was ineffective.

Foul trouble to the Knicks’ big men hurt the interior defense, with Mitchell Robinson and Nerlens Noel picking up three first-half fouls each. Julius Randle (17 points, nine assists, eight rebounds) also picked up his fourth midway in the third.

It was a solid Knicks debut for Alec Burks, who scored 19 of his 22 points in the first half.

Rookie lottery pick Obi Toppin showed flashes but got too 3-point happy in his debut. He shot 3 of 12 — 3 of 7 from 3.

Toppin missed his first two shots then drilled a corner 3-pointer for his first Knicks points. He then hooked up with Barrett on a play that could be seen a lot across the years. Toppin pulled down a rebound, initiated the fast break and threw a laser to Barrett for a dunk.

The low point for Toppin came when he drove to the hoop and got blocked by Turner, who collected eight rejections.

Barrett, the No. 3 pick in 2019, made all eight of his first-half shots — including all three of his 3-pointers — to rack up 20 points in the half.

Burks surprisingly didn’t start as he missed the last two preseason games for personal reasons after his wife gave birth. But he was smooth as silk coming off the bench to pile up 19 first-half points with all sorts of shotmaking, a pair of 3-pointers, midrange jumpers and a fast-break layup. Their top free-agent signee was 6 of 8 from the field.

After an inefficient rookie year, Barrett got off to a scintillating start in his second season, making his first two 3-pointers and finishing with 10 first-quarter points with three assists.

Despite nine turnovers, the Knicks were trailing just 35-33 after one. They drilled 5 of 8 3-pointers in the first period — considered one of the team’s weak spots.

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