Hawks 99, Knicks 90: "Let's never play in the afternoon again."

Chances are some of you rolled out of bed around noon, still hungover and leaden with leftover turkey, only to realize there was a game at 1 that required your attention. The same thing may have happened to the Knicks. Flossy put it succinctly in the game thread: our Knicks have come out flat in each of their matinee games this season, and today's was no exception. The transition play, ball movement, and accuracy on open looks we'd seen during a five-game win streak dissolved all at once. New York plodded through the first half while the Hawks ripped nets, and a second half comeback just wasn't enough. In many ways, the Hawks did to the Knicks what the Knicks did to each of their last five opponents.

Take the jump for just a few notes.

- The Knicks did a pretty decent job on Joe Johnson. Danilo Gallinari, Landry Fields, and Raymond Felton each checked The Armadillo Cowboy at various points, and all did well to keep him on the outside and make him shoot jumpers. Other Knicks came over to double quite a bit, which worked nicely, except that the help came too often when Johnson had already faced the rim and taken a snapshot of his teammates' positions. Joe's big enough and strong enough that simply throwing another body at him isn't enough if he's allowed to see his teammates. Untimely doubling has been a problem all season long, and the Hawks joined a long list of opponents who have enjoyed wide open shots resulting from easy passes out of double teams.

- While granting open shots on one end, the Knicks couldn't connect on their own at the other. They couldn't generate offense from turnovers (just 6 for Atlanta) and were sluggish and indecisive in halfcourt sets. That made for a lot of forced, late-in-the-shot-clock attempts that had no prayer of finding the net. Not on a Saturday afternoon.

- Wilson Chandler and Toney Douglas looked dismal in the first half. Neither utilized lanes to the basket, and both settled for jumpers in each and every circumstance. Both made a better effort to attack in the second half, with Wil spinning to the rim for close attempts and Toney wheeling in for a few nice feeds and a drawn foul. When those two are on, they're on. When they're off, it is crucial that they find points elsewhere. Today, the attacking effort came too late.

- It was a rough, rough game for Danilo Gallinari. Gallo only played 23 minutes, in part because he just couldn't get involved in the offense. After a stretch of games in which Danilo was demanding the ball up top and putting his touches to use, The Cock went back to his corner and waited for the action to come to him. That Gallinari attempted only 6 shots is partly his teammates' fault (a frequent mismatch with Mike Bibby guarding Gallo was serially ignored), but Danilo has shown that he can will the ball into his possession if need be. Why not today?

- Regarding Joe Johnson re-signing because Atlanta was the best "fit", Mike Breen stated "you can make a lot of things fit for an extra $20 million", to which everybody watching responded "THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!". And then we all wept.

- Since all of the other bad habits resurfaced, it was only natural that the "isolate-Amar'e-at-the-top-of-the-key-and-everybody-watch-him" offense reared its ugly head once more. Maybe part of the reason the Knicks are 2-5 at home is that Stoudemire's teammates act like ticket-holders? Stoudemire forced a shot or two, charged a time or two, and had 4 turnovers, but I thought he did a better job than previously at avoiding the wild 1-on-4 drives.

- Ronny Turiaf's knee flared up again, and he returned to the locker room after playing just 10 minutes in the first half. Even in the time he did play, Turiaf's point-center game wasn't in full effect.

- The halftime show starred Steve Max, "The Master of Simon Says". Mr. Max shouted incomprehensibly for a few minutes, bewildering innocent children in the process, and then declared the game a tie. Simon is probably rolling in his grave right now.

- Raymond Felton registered only 4 assists, but I was pleased to see him attacking from the very start. This is a pretty nice shot chart for the little penguin. I'd love to see more give-and-go plays with Felton (or any guard, really) and Stoudemire. Those big-small hand-offs work nicely.

- Jamal Crawford was bound to torch the Knicks, right? He had one of those games in which the level of defense just didn't matter. He pulled from anywhere and everywhere with all kinds of hands in his face. The boxscore tells me he shot 8-18, but it felt more like 18-8.

- I have no negative words for Landry Fields. 15 and 11 on 6-10 shooting for the rook, and a few of those points came on a corner three-pointer with Josh Smith standing and screaming in his ear from the Hawk bench. Landry Fields makes me wish I had a sister for him to impregnate.

- Hey, bench! Timofey Mozgov committed some bummer fouls, but defended and rebounded admirably in Turiaf's stead (6 boards, 3 blocks in just 14 minutes). Anthony Randolph, meanwhile, took the floor for garbage time and threw two splendid assists in his 2 minutes of play.

- That guy holding the "Mike Bibby 4 President" sign after the game clearly hasn't considered how destructive Team Dime would be as a cabinet.

That'll probably do it. There wasn't much to this one. The Knicks failed at ball movement on offense and failed to respond to ball movement on defense. It was a truly ugly afternoon game. Tomorrow brings another matinee in Detroit, and things could get reallllly ugly if they bring this weak stuff again.

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