Oh, man, it was a great way to kind of get back on track. Any time you can win on the road, that’s always a big win. Much better effort than we put forth in that San Antonio game. I’m glad to see that we responded in that fashion and put that game behind us. – CARMELO ANTHONY
Despite playing their worst 12 minutes of the season in the third quarter, the Knicks regrouped under the sharp shooting of Andrea Bargnani and Carmelo Anthony to post a sorely needed victory over the Atlanta Hawks last night at Philips Arena. Team owner James Dolan guaranteed a victory and the squad didn’t disappoint in spite of making the contest much harder than it needed to be.
FIRST HALF EXCELLENCE: Even with the specter of Iman Shumpert being traded, the team came out composed and very efficient. The ball movement was strong and JR Smith in the starting lineup added another much-needed weapon (JR went 3-4 from downtown in the opening 12 minutes). Melo was abusing Paul Millsap inside and Andrea Bargnani (20 pts, 11 rebounds) was actually boxing out and taking down rebounds (making up for his shot getting swatted by Kyle Korver of all people). Speaking of Korver, the Knicks held him scoreless in the first half, much of it behind Shumpert’s close-out defense.
3RD QUARTER FUTILITY: The Knicks came out lifeless for the third quarter and were outscored 10-23, allowing the Hawks to erase a 10-point halftime deficit (55-45) to take a slim 68-63 lead into the fourth. The Knicks offense became stagnant isolations with most of the chucking coming from Melo (9-25, 25 PTS), who was out of sync in the paint and on the perimeter. On defense, the inability of Raymond Felton to keep Jeff Teague in front of him allowed Atlanta to get several fast break points and repeated slams off cuts from Horford.
BARGNANI CLOSES THE SHOW: With the main starters on both teams resting, New York tightened up their defense and took advantage of Hawks point guard rookie Dennis Schroder, who committed four turnovers. Pablo Prigioni played a huge part in this area by being his usual pesky self. The Knicks shooting return to form behind Bargnani, who hit a few three-pointers to put the game out of a reach (the dagger being a bank shot to put the Knicks up by 9 with two minutes remaining). It was a true team effort with everyone doing their part to destroy all the momentum the Hawks had built up in the third.
SHUMPERT ‘S WELL-ROUNDED CONTRIBUTIONS: Shumpert didn’t have much in the way of points (1-4, 5 points), but he had a key three-pointer in the fourth to start the Knicks run, and he kept the offense going with his passing (9 assists). He also added 4 steals and 6 rebounds. I love Kenneth Faried too, but show me a game he can contribute in these varied ways.
The Knicks don’t get to rest on their laurels. They’re back in action tonight against old friend Jeremy Lin and the rest of the Houston Rockets.