Who needs an All-Star break? Certain not the New York Knicks, who steamrolled the Hawks in Atlanta Wednesday night, 122-101, for their third consecutive win. The Knicks held a double-digit lead in all four quarters of this game. Yes, the Hawks did get as close as 11 in the third quarter, as the Knicks suddenly forgot how to hit jump shots, but the bully-ball heroics of Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle and — it’s true! — Isaiah Hartenstein kept the Hawks at bay. Once the jumpers started falling again in the fourth quarter, that was all she wrote.
This team is quite good at the moment!
- Pretty much everyone was good in this game (with perhaps one glaring exception), but I’d like to highlight the play of Hartenstein. I think I’m going to write about this more in-depth next week during the break, but Hartenstein has been a revelation of late. The Hawks have some big boys up front in Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu. This is the kind of matchup that might have given iHart trouble in the past. Instead, he dominated, with 11 rebounds (four offensive) and three blocks. The pick-and-roll coverage was so much better than their previous game against the Hawks, and the play of Hartenstein and Jericho Sims was a big part of that. When Mitchell Robinson comes back and solidifies the starting lineup, they will truly possess one of the best frontcourt rotations in the NBA.
- This game was a fine example of how Julius Randle has improved even on his all-NBA season of two years ago. He started off the first quarter on fire with the jumper, canning three quick threes. He wouldn’t hit another three the entire rest of the game, as his jumper deserted him. But when the Knicks needed scoring in that third quarter, Julius went to work inside, bullying the Hawks for buckets and grabbing three offensive boards. He gives this team what it needs.
- Brunson was Brunson. He should be an All-Star.
- Quickley was Quickley. He dropped a casual 14 points, four rebounds and two assists. There isn’t much left to say about the excellence he brings every game.
- On the other hand, we’re still getting used to the excellence Josh Hart brings every game. Hart dropped a casual 13 points, five rebounds and two dimes. He continues to shoot the three well (3-5), which was supposed to be his big weakness.
- Best game for Obi Toppin in a while: 11 points on 4-7 shooting in 13 minutes.
- Was RJ Barrett bad? Kiiiiinda. His jump shot has completely abandoned him (0-6 from three), but he did manage to score 17 points by getting to the free-throw line (5-7). De’Andre Hunter (20 points) and AJ Griffin (12 points) kinda owned him offensively, but I did notice a few times they hit some tough shots on possessions which RJ defended well. Other times...not so much. He also lost track of various Hawks in transition on occasion. Let’s get this guy a few days off to clear his head.
And so the Knicks go into the break in sixth place at 33-27, 0.5 games ahead of the Heat, who lost tonight. As P&T’er BingBongRuinedUs noted, it’s a wonderful sensation.