NEW YORK—Ten observations from Knicks 111, Hawks 107
1. This was a pretty good effort for the Hawks under the circumstances: intense victory over the Magic on Saturday, tough travel night to New York, and still down three big men (Dewayne Dedmon, John Collins and Mike Muscala). The Hawks were bad for a long stretch of the fourth quarter and trailed by nine with 2:22 to go before rallying to twice cut the lead to thee points in the final 1:40. But Marco Belinelli missed an open 3 in transition with 52.2 seconds to go and Jarrett Jack responded with a jumper for a 107-102 Knicks lead with 28.5 seconds left. The Hawks got another chance because of missed free throws and fouls by the Knicks. But Kent Bazemore’s free-throw attempt missed the rim when he tried to set up an offensive rebound chance.
2. The Hawks trailed by one point after three quarters. They were down 86-82 when Taurean Prince and Dennis Schroder got careless: Prince’s pass from under New York’s basket went off of Schroder, with both players appearing to lose focus on the play. Frank Ntilikina hit a three-pointer that started an 11-4 spurt to give the Knicks breathing room.
3. The Hawks were in danger of fading away early in the fourth quarter when Schroder went to work. Instead of holding the ball and probing the defense, Schroder moved the ball and then attacked space from the weak side when it swung back around to him. Schroder scored seven consecutive points for the Hawks but then Budenholzer benched him for the final 8:14, calling it a “coach’s decision.” Schroder wasn’t happy about it.
4. The Knicks couldn’t prevent Prince from getting to the basket. Prince (17 points on 12 shots, eight rebounds, five assists) has gotten noticeably better driving the ball under control and changing up his approach: sometimes muscling through defenders, other times knifing between them.
5. Ersan Ilyasova got first crack at Kristaps Porzingis, with Miles Plumlee taking Enes Kanter. Luke Babbitt and Luke Cavanaugh also took turns checking Porzingis, who obviously was the focus of the Hawks’ defensive strategy. Porzingis shook free for some clean looks on pick-and-pops, did his thing in the mid-post and shot over some good defensive challenges. He scored 28 points on 23 shots, which the Hawks probably can live with, but maybe not so much Doug McDermott’s season-high 23 points on 13 shots.
6. A night after Ilyasova made all nine of his field-goal attempts while scoring 26 points, he had 20 points on 11 shots. He made three of his four three-point attempts spanning the second and third quarters and two more in the fourth, including one that got the Hawks within 103-97 with two minutes to go.
7. Schroder ended up switched on Porzingis a few times, which is not ideal. One of those matchups ended with Schroder going to the bench after picking up his second foul. That was unfortunate for the Hawks because Schroder was in rhythm early. Later on in the half Schroder was doing the thing where he drives too deep into the lane against bigs. And he went to the bench with four fouls in the third quarter.
8. The Hawks trailed by seven when Schroder went to the bench 3:17 before halftime. They led by a point at the buzzer with Ilyasova and Luke Babbitt making threes, and Prince and Marco Belinelli scoring on drives. Malcom Delaney, playing some rare minutes at the point, helped make the Hawks go during that stretch (two assists).
9. The Hawks seemed eager to put Porzingis and Kanter in pick-and-rolls with Plumlee (nine points on six shots, five rebounds in 16 minutes. The results were mixed early—Plulmee got free run to the basket often but didn’t finish efficiently. But then Plumlee started getting more aggressive when catching the ball around the basket and the Knicks had to account for him or pay the price:
Plumlee also did this:
For a bad team, the Hawks have pretty good frontcourt depth, if that makes sense.
10. The Hawks team flight was delayed leaving Atlanta by 2 ½ hours following the Magic came. The team arrived at its hotel at about 4 a.m. Bundeholzer decided to skip the usual breakfast meeting. “Let them get a little extra sleep,” he said. “I think anytime you are playing at Madison Square Garden, usually that helps your energy, helps your juice a little bit. Hopefully our guys are in a good place.” There was little sign of early sluggishness from the Hawks, who scored first and held the lead for all but a minute or so of the first quarter.
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