Wow wow wow. For the second game in a row, the Knicks put on their shoes, tied their shoes, then ran around in their shoes making baskets and defending until they'd won a basketball game against the Hawks. New York swept the home-and-home and split the season series with another remarkable balanced attack. Derek Fisher once again kept his rotation short. He leaned heavily on Carmelo Anthony, who did an alarmingly good job acting as a hub instead of a dead end, moving the ball constantly until a more shot-heavy final stretch. Kristaps Porzingis had some sensational moments on each end, Arron Afflalo cooled off only by half, and Robin Lopez returned late to add some friction to a lapsing Knick defense.
Gonna start at the end there, actually. First of all, this game got a little chippy. It was miserably officiated all night, and as is bound to happen under bad officiating, things got just a bit heated. Lopez had battled Paul Millsap earlier, and returned to find Kent Bazemore growling at Kristaps's neck:
THAT'S RIGHT MELO IF ANYONE SO MUCH BREATHES UPON MY HANDSOME BABY BOY YOU TOSS HIS WHOLE BODY INTO THE NEAREST RIVER
The Hawks were pissed off, and they defended very well late, especially when the Knicks didn't use any action at all and just let Melo and Afflalo pull contested shots (which, to be fair, went slightly better than usual.) Lopez's screening helped, and he also helped make the game's winning play:
HOW COME YOU WEREN'T PREPARED FOR THE GIVE-AND-GO JOSE CALDERON LAY-IN, HAWKS?
That was great. Some other parts of the fourth quarter weren't so great -- namely the stagnant offense and the flurry of Hawk o-boards and threes -- but most everything before that was really, really great.
Melo was terrific, both in bully form:
... and in ball-mover form:
The Knicks got a bucket or three pushing off misses, which is my favorite thing they do when they do it:
Derrick Williams stood out in a pretty quiet (offensive) night for the bench with his foul-drawing and his plays at the rim:
And god, there was so much Kristaps, man:
KP on the block pic.twitter.com/RavxZmisoI— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 6, 2016
Step back off one dribble from 20 feet... He's 7'3 pic.twitter.com/HuVuNRTDja— Tommy Beer (@TommyBeer) January 6, 2016
I liked that game. The Knicks protected the rim pretty well, moved the ball nicely, weathered some streaky three-point shooting, and beat a good, angry team for the second time in a row. There was a stretch in the third quarter in which the passing and defense nearly made me cry. Man. Fantastic.