After a bumpy start to the season, the New York Knicks (6-5) recently gave the Bucks a challenge and turned a corner last week, defeating the Clippers, Spurs, and Hornets before losing to the Celtics on Monday. Heading into tonight’s contest, the second of a five-game road trip, the question was: could the Knicks pluck the Atlanta Hawks (6-5) for a second time this season and get back on a winning track?
Once again, the Knicks had five players record double-digit points. Once again, the Knicks escaped Atlanta with a win, this time with a score of 116-114. Here’s how.
Julius Randle posted the first seven points for New York. Four and half minutes passed before another Knick tickled the bottom of the net. He would finish the quarter with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting. It was the first time this season that Randle had reached double-digits in the first quarter.
Atlanta gave little defensive resistance as New York stretched out a 13-point lead. The Knicks gobbled rebounds like hungry hippos on a marble binge. Jalen Brunson had an efficient quarter, scoring eight points and four assists, drawing another charge, and leading the Knicks into the second frame, up 33-22.
New York had shot 44% from beyond the arc; Atlanta, only 14%. Surely, the Hawks couldn’t shoot that poorly all night. . . .
The quarter started off well enough. . . .
Bogdan Bogdanovic subbed in and scored seven straight points for Atlanta. He led his bird buddies on a 12-6 run. Josh Hart cashed a three piece from the top of the arc to regain some ground, but as the quarter progressed, Atlanta improved their defensive efforts and sucked up the momentum. Saddiq Bey scored nine straight points and, with four minutes left in the quarter, he tipped the game for Atlanta, 52-51.
The Knicks caught a few lucky breaks late in the frame. Jalen Brunson drew ANOTHER offensive charge, his second tonight, and the Knicks managed to bring a 57-56 advantage into intermission.
The Nova cats connected beautifully on this:
Another Jalen—he of the Hawks with surname Johnson—averaged 14 points per game before tonight. Johnson scored 13 in tonight’s first half, and with Bogie (15 points) led Atlanta so far.
New York had 15 assists in the half, but their long-range shooting had cooled (35% on 17 attempts), and they had hit 47% of their field goals. Conversely, the Hawks had heated up, raising their rate from three to 40%. New York had continued to control the boards, finishing the half with 28 rebounds to Atlanta’s 17.
Your halftime shot chart:
Quentin Grimes hit back-to-back triples early on, reaching his point total into double-digits for only the fourth time in 11 games. The offense spun their wheels, though. The Knicks, who had protected the ball so well in recent games, had nine turnovers by midway through the third frame. When Clint Capela flushed an alley-oop, the Hawks pushed ahead again.
The Knicks answered with a 9-0 run to go ahead by eight. Altanta kept coming, though, ratcheting up the defense and forcing six turnovers in the quarter. Randle and Brunson took charge, however, and Immanuel Quickley heat-checked a 32-footer to make it 87-81 heading into Q4.
A worrisome moment came early in the third: Grimes left for the locker room with a hand injury. Prayers up. As for his compatriots, the Knicks started the quarter 0-for-5. While New York struggled to scrape together seven points, Atlanta doubled that and reclaimed the lead. The Hawks would take their largest lead of the night—seven points—with five minutes to go.
Out of a timeout, Quickley scored five straight points to end an 11-0 Atlanta run. Mitchell Robinson played his ass off, keeping an essential possession alive, and Jalen Brunson scorched a triple to inch ahead by one. The score see-sawed with clutch buckets aplenty. A late offensive rebound by Hart, alert play by Brunson, and a strong drive to the rim by Randle put the Knicks up by two with under a minute left. An exciting ending followed—which Sam Stein will tell you all about in his recap.
- Jalen Brunson: 24 points, eight assists, 8-of-19 FG, 6-of-10 3P, 41 minutes.
- Quentin Grimes: 11 points, one rebound apiece for rebounds, assists, and steals, three TO, 4-of-10 FG, 3-of-7 3P, 28 minutes.
- Josh Hart: nine points, eight rebounds, five assists, one block, 4-of-10 FG, 1-of-5 3P, 33 minutes.
- Julius Randle: 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal, one turnover, 12-of-24 FG, 3-of-5 3P, 39 minutes.
- Mitchell Robinson: 15 rebounds, six points, three steals, one block, NO FOULS, 31 minutes.
Side note: Gus Johnson called the game on MSG’s broadcast and is apparently back in the fold for road games. Mark Jackson was supposed to get the gig, but a sour history with Darren Erman seems to have put the kibosh on that. I like Gus; I’m glad that story had a happy ending.
The road trip rolls on, with the Knicks trucking to the nation’s capital for a Friday night tilt with the Washington Wizards. Sam’s got your recap cooking. Safe travels, Knickerbockers.