Sometimes, as a Knicks fan, I feel like I can visualize the outcome of a basketball game before it’s over.
I don’t need to watch the game to see where something is going. It’s like watching the same rerun of a bad episode you’ve seen a million times. There’s no escaping the ending. It’s already set.
With 5:20 left in the fourth quarter, a Saddiq Bey putback dunk extended the Atlanta lead to seven. The Knicks called a timeout, and I was rewarded with an obnoxiously loud New Jersey Lottery commercial. No thanks. I closed my eyes. I took a big deep breath in through my nose, held for a few seconds, and then exhaled through my mouth. They say that deep breathing is good for you when you’re feeling stressed. I was indeed feeling stressed.
Cue the freeze frame. Cue the record scratch.
How the hell did we get here again?
Well. Glad you asked.
The festivities got off to an ominous start, as RJ Barrett was announced as inactive early in the evening. As we’ve seen so far this season, Josh Hart slid into the starting lineup. The Knicks were down a pivotal starter, and their nine-man rotation was cut down to eight.
In the other corner, the Atlanta Hawks entered the game with a 6-4 record, fresh off of a win in which they barely squeaked by the Detroit Pistons. But Trae was out that game, and he was back tonight against New York, healthy and rested.
The Knicks won the tip, and the fun was underway. If New York wanted to win this ballgame, they would have to get out to a strong start.
Julius Randle got the memo.
Julius Randle gets the show started pic.twitter.com/OwSTgKvctg— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 16, 2023
For the first time this season, Randle put up double digits in the first quarter this season. 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting is nothing to scoff at. Randle might not be the prettiest on the offensive end of the floor at times, but he’s certainly better than his current season averages.
Jalen Brunson joined in on the fun too, adding 8 points and 4 assists.
The ball was moving, players were knocking down shots, and it resulted in a 33-22 lead at the end of the first frame.
Despite the Knicks’ efforts, the pesky Hawks kept themselves in the game. Bogdan Bogdanovic started the quarter hot, Saddiq Bey finished it, and Jalen Johnson added some supplemental buckets throughout the second. New York cooled down a bit on the offensive end, momentarily losing their lead after Bey scored his 8th and 9th points in a row for Atlanta, but they were able to carry a one-point lead into the halftime break.
The third quarter was a lot of back-and-forth action. Quentin Grimes opened the half with back-to-back threes, an encouraging sign for a player who has fallen short of expectations so far this season. But the Hawks responded.
After a Clint Capela lob from Trae Young, the Hawks reclaimed a lead with 8:00 to go. The Knicks answered right back with a 9-0 run, pushing the lead to eight.
The rest of the quarter continued as such, with both teams making plays on the offensive end of the floor. An Immanuel Quickley three from the logo (!) pushed the Knickerbocker lead to six going into the fourth.
Twelve minutes to go. Could the Knicks hold on?
The fourth quarter got off to an inauspicious start, with Quentin Grimes going back to the locker room with a hand injury. The army of eight was now an army of seven.
After overcoming some cold shooting to open up the quarter, New York held a four-point lead after Julius Randle subbed back in and hit a big three to stretch the lead.
Aaaaand then Atlanta went on an 11-0 run. Womp womp.
Cue the scene at the beginning of the article. All of that for what? Another disappointing Knicks loss? You’ve gotta be kidding me.
Not so fast, New York.
I took a deep breath to collect myself, and maybe that’s what Thibs told everyone in the huddle to do, too. IQ rattled off five quick points, Brunson hit a three, and just like that, the Knicks were up one again. 3:54 to go. Let’s dance.
The Brunson-Quickley and Young-Murray backcourts were absolutely dueling down the stretch. Some big free throw shooting from Quickley tied the game up at 105 with 2:38 remaining, but Murray drained a tough middy over Randle to give the Hawks a brief lead. Then Brunson responded again.
After a Josh Hart floater as the shot clock expired, Trae Young made one of those fake basketball swipe plays and got three free throws out of it to tie it back up. Whatever.
With less than a minute left, Randle finished a nice pass off of a JB feed to give the Knicks a two-point lead. Trae Young hit one of two free throws from the stripe. New York ball. 30 seconds left. Do you know what time it is? I know what time it is. It’s Brunson time.
Quickley hit two big free throws, and despite the Knicks trying their absolute best to give the game away with a five-second violation, they survived. Phew.
- A huge team win tonight, with five players finishing in double digits in the points column. Of those who didn’t, Mitchell Robinson had 15 rebounds, Josh Hart had 9 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists, and while Donte DiVincenzo didn’t have a great game, Gus Johnson made everything right with an official nickname.
- The Big Ragu. Gus Johnson calls DiVo the Big Ragu. He was christened such back in his Nova days. Count the current Knicks players you see in the video below!
I thought I liked DiVo as a nickname. But man. The Big Ragu.
- Speaking of, we were treated to Gus Johnson in the broadcast booth tonight! One of my favorite sports announcers out there. Us NY fans are spoiled.
- Eight assists for Julius Randle. Only one turnover. Not all of the assists were pretty, but when Randle is looking to pass, good things happen in the Knick offense.
- IQ provided another huge spark off the bench tonight. 20 points on efficient shooting. Another 6MOTY campaign is approaching.
- No fouls for Mitchell Robinson tonight in 31 minutes of play.
- The Knicks hit 16 threes tonight. They out-rebounded the Hawks by 12 overall and won the offensive glass battle, 14-6. The squad is establishing a real identity out there.
Xhu35 said it best: “I didn’t know we’d win until we did.” This game was a sweat, but the good guys came out on top.
An encouraging victory in Atlanta tonight. We do it all again on Friday against Washington. Rest well, folks.