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Knicks 99, Hawks 90: Scenes from the finest defensive effort of the season

The Knicks locked down the Hawks in the fourth.

New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The New York Knicks had payback on their mind Saturday night as they took on the Atlanta Hawks for the first time since their playoff exit last season. Unfortunately, they were missing four role players in Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel.

Tom Thibodeau would be forced to adjust his beloved rotations, inserting Alec Burk into the starting lineup and using rookies Quentin Grimes and Jericho Sims off the bench. To say it worked would be an understatement. Burks shook the Knicks out of their usual third-quarter doldrums with 15 of his team-high 23 points in the frame, helping the Knicks take back the lead after Atlanta had snatched it away coming out of halftime.

Jericho Sims, perhaps the most surprising contributor of the night, played like the Knicks’ No. 1 center, chipping in 6 points and 6 rebounds in 21 minutes.

Grimes didn’t score much, but his defense was incredible, and he threw the assist of the night to Obi Toppin.

Speaking of defense, the Knicks needed all they could get to overcome their most recent playoff nemesis, Trae Young. Trae always gets up to play the Knicks — it’s the only time he’s relevant on a national scale in the regular season — and he poured in 31 points in just three quarters. But then he was introduced to Immanuel Quickley. Young IQ drew the tough assignment and handled it like a pro, holding Young to just 2 garbage-time points in the fourth quarter.

Best win of the season? Perhaps. Recap to come.