I am going to rewatch that game, because that was a really wonderful game. Perhaps the Knicks' best of the season? The Hawks have the Knicks figured out -- they've demonstrated that in two decisive wins this season. But they don't have the Knicks figured out when New York plays a tight rotation, pushes hard off misses and turnovers, a legitimately Jordan-esque game from Arron Afflalo out of nowhere.
For a night, the Knicks just identified their problems and solved them. Derek Fisher roasted the Knicks for their defense this weekend, so they played frantically to limit the Hawks' easy buckets in the halfcourt. Fish also left a starter on the floor for every non-garbage minute, and watched those semi-bench units get quick buckets off drives and quick screens. Arron Afflalo insisted he just needed to dial up the effort a little bit to get back in a groove, so he scrapped for his touches and dropped 37 points (maybe 38!?) on 17 shots. 7/8 from downtown. Just utter absurdity. The MSG scorekeeping software went down, and I blame it entirely on Afflalo. He broke math.
I had so much fun watching that. Let's look at a few things! The Knicks' biggest problem when they had some problems was telegraphing passes and giving up fast break buckets:
Granted, the Hawks had the same problem. And the Knicks took care of that problem.
Anyway, forget about problems. The Knicks got so many buckets. Afflalo did this over and over and over and over and over and over and over again:
REPLAY: @carmeloanthony hits Afflalo for the 3-pointer! #Knicks lead up to 13 in the 3Q. #NYKvsATL pic.twitter.com/B7lFWYmUNQ— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 3, 2016
That's all third quarter.
Jose Calderon and Kristaps Porzingis got a handful of first-half buckets as well:
.@JmCalderon3 w/ 7pts in the 1Q to fuel the #Knicks 15-13 lead. #NYKvsATL pic.twitter.com/WGpfWeiaOl— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 3, 2016
The #Knicks expand their lead in the 2Q to 33-25! @kporzee w/ 7pts & this long bomb. #NYKvsATL pic.twitter.com/MVULCtdIka— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 3, 2016
That Grant-Porzingis drive-and-kick worked very nicely:
REPLAY: @JerianGrant hits @kporzee for another 3-ball! Porzingis now w/ a team-high 12pts & #Knicks lead 49-35. pic.twitter.com/QWjKbm2fZR— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 3, 2016
And Robin Lopez brought both his best help defense:
... and his best hooking:
And this felt like the clincher out of a timeout:
REPLAY: @carmeloanthony with the hammer jam! #NYKvsATL pic.twitter.com/UOspoZD8S5— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) January 3, 2016
Great passing, great shooting, great defense. Great game. More to come.