The Knicks dominated the Hawks 111-97 Sunday afternoon, a dynamic matinee that leads one to especially not miss J.R. Smith. Atlanta won the teams' first two meetings by 11 and 19 points, but with Derek Fisher's public criticisms ringing in their ears, the Knicks came out with their pants on fire, on a clear mission to get out and run off of misses. Put a ring on that and commit to it every night.
The Knicks were up 11-0 early and led most of the way, playing beautifully. The ball was moving, they were out in transition, they were tight on defense. They slaughtered Atlanta on the glass. They were out-cutting the Hawks. Out-hustling them. Out-oxygenating them. Out-everything-ing them. At the half the lead was ten. Nine Knicks had played; this was their shot distribution: 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7.
Arron Afflalo came out aggressive. More importantly, he came out good, hitting four of five shots in the opening quarter. on his way to 13 of his first 14, including a perfect six for six from distance, pushing the lead to 17 in the third. Though Afflalo was the statistical star, this was group artistry. The Knicks moved themselves and the ball symphonically all the live-long day. This was Broadway at its best.
- A tech issue at the Garden messed up all the box scores, so I don't know how many shots Robin Lopez took. But he was active active active, attacking the defense and the boards while dishing out assists. When he's really good, the team is really good.
- New York entered the game last in transition, but the Knicks did a lot of running and secondary-transition scoring. The Derrick Williams bandwagon enjoyed seeing him get out and push. Speaking of pushing the pace...
- Welcome back, Jerian Grant! Grant was a force, hitting pull-ups and drives on fast breaks, finding Kristaps Porzingis and Lopez on pick-and-rolls, even nailing a couple midrange jumpers. 23 positive minutes for the resurrected rook, plus a highlight stuffing of Shelvin Mack.
- Grant and Porzingis have real chemistry. If Jerian can stick in the rotation, it could help get KP going again.
- 14 and 7 (unofficially) for Kristaps. He nearly rent the Earth in two missing a dunk.
- Carmelo Anthony followed a late drive and dunk with an unusually flagrant leg kick. Nice to see some flair! It was like his athletically-lesser homage to Latrell Sprewell's furious legwork.
- On the next possession, Anthony gave Thabo Sefolosha the business, driving and drawing a foul. Then he gave Sefolosha the business, talking to him. On the next possession he dribbled off a Porzingis pick and drilled a pull-up J. Team wide balance throughout the game leaves more energy late for your closer to close.
- No Kevin Seraphin.
- No Kyle O'Quinn till garbage time.
- After opening the year with three straight home losses and at 3-6 at the Garden, the Knicks moved above .500 at home with the win. 9-8. The first sign a bad NBA team's turned a corner is when they're winning at home.
- At 6:10 in the first quarter, Atlanta hit a baseline jumper. Derek Fisher called time. The first dead ball after the six-minute mark is an official's timeout. Fish must've really not liked something he saw there. He's shown this unorthodox timeout thing before. That's as much of an identity as Coach Fisher has to me.
-The hot shooting continued early from Jose Calderon, swishing his first three shots, meaning he'd hit 15 of his last 18. He's had a few scintillating shooting spells so far this season.
- Porzingis' ball-handling is improving. Or maybe today was an anomaly. Either way, some very nice dribbling/penetrating sequences that in the past would have ended in turnovers. 87-inch bipeds don't do this.
He missed the shot here, and had a few other nice moves he couldn't finish. The next step in his evolution is to make the highlight on these plays the finish rather than the build-up.
- On one play Lopez hit a cutting KP for a lay-up and seeing a seven-foot human and a seven-three human do that yes yes yes.
- Rebecca Haarlow and Rasheed Hazzard share the same initials. In their halftime interview, they showed they also share the same love for reductive logic.
Haarlow: What can you do to slow down [turnovers]?
Hazzard: Execution...part of execution is not turning the ball over.
Haarlow: How do you not do A?
Hazzard: By not doing A.
- The Hawks uniforms look dope for an intramural team or a 3-on-3 tournament. I do dig the scales/plating on the jersey. But pros in red tops and black shorts = LOL nah.
- If one could bet on NBA players' likelihood of ending up in an on-court fight, Kent Bazemore would be my bet. Just a feeling.
- I'm used to the only words on the Madison Square Garden court being "Madison Square Garden" and "Knicks." Did I miss the day "Chase" found its way onto the floor? Where will that rank on the next countdown of "The Garden's Defining Moments"?
- Signs of aging no one warns you about: no matter how hard you try, you never remember that Dennis Schroder's last name is pronounced "shrew-der."
- Certain athletes are cursed in that their movement is so effortless, so fluid, it looks like they're not really trying. Carlos Beltran is one. Lance Thomas forever looks like a groin strain waiting to happen.
Quoth BernardKing'Speech: "God that was gorgeous." There was a touch of divine to the Knicks' play today. Did you like it? Good! 'Cuz in 48 hours these same Knicks play these same Hawks. Friday in Chicago, the Knicks weren't ready for the challenge brought by a team that had reason for revenge. Tuesday we'll see how they handle it.