The Knicks accomplished perhaps their best feat thus far this season with back to back wins over the elite Atlanta Hawks.
Ball movement? You got it and it started with Carmelo Anthony, who had 7 assists last night and flirted with a triple double (23 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists). On Sunday’s game he had five. In two games, New York tallied 27 dishes.
Defense? The Hawks were held to 35% from three and went from 23 fast break points on Sunday to just 8 Tuesday night. They shot an average of 44% from the field, but never got a consistent offense going due to the Knicks’ pesky interior defense, helmed by Robin Lopez and Kristaps Porzingis combining for 7 blocks in the two outings.
Backcourt production? Arron Afflalo exploded for 38 points on Sunday, torching Atlanta by hitting his first seven three pointers and going 14/17 from the field. Calderon was +9 in Sunday’s game, but had his best moment last night when he hit a clutch driving layup over several Hawk defenders to put New York up 105-101 with 18 seconds remaining. He finished with 7 points and six assists.
Bench spark? Jerian Grant had his best game as a Knick on Sunday. He looked for his shot and passed, scoring 8 points and dishing for 7 assists. Last night, it was Derrick Williams providing much needed production with 15 points.
Coaching? Derek Fisher went with a nine-man rotation and exploited matchups. His subs gave the starters adequate rest, and he stayed with the players that provided a hot hand.
Toughness? The Knicks didn’t fall apart when the Hawks tightened up last night and tried to bully them. Robin Lopez retaliated quickly from a Paul Millsap cheap shot, and Porzingis got right in Kent Bazemore’s face for the same tactics (with Melo having his back).
The team still has a ways to go, but the chemistry is building. And with this squad already equaling last year’s 17 wins, you can’t help but be optimistic.