By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks
Post Game Recap
The Knicks talked of a turnaround heading into Atlanta and that is what they delivered. Must win games in November are not something people take seriously but this was something of a game the Knicks needed to win. They have a daunting matchup with the Houston Rockets tomorrow night on the second night of the back-to-back and James Dolan opened his mouth once again promising the Knicks would win tonight. They did not put together a full four quarters but they had a dominating opening and final quarter to control the game. Overall it was a solid, not outstanding, team effort put forth by the Knicks tonight as they were able to keep Dolan’s promise and take a victory back to Madison Square Garden with them for tomorrow night’s matchup against the Houston Rockets at 8 P.M. ET on TNT.
Player of the Game: Iman Shumpert
|Daniel Shirey/USA Today Sports|
Shumpert has been part of a lot of trade rumors in his short career and they became very loud this week as the Knicks and Nuggets were supposedly engaged in trade talks revolving around a Shumpert for Kenneth Faried sway. The Nuggets rejected and Shumpert is still a Knick, which is a good thing and tonight’s final line epitomizes it. Shumpert had a tough shooting night, going two of eight from the field but he did not let that negatively affect his game in any way. He handed out a career high nine assists tonight, grabbed six rebounds and played his usual menacing and ferocious defense with four steals. Shumpert had a momentum swinging play in the fourth quarter as well, stealing an inbounds pass and hitting the slashing Raymond Felton for a layup. Shumpert is the exact type of glue guy the Knicks need as he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to impact the game and is more than willing to let the rest of his game do the talking.
Andrea Bargnani could have easily been named the POTG once again as he had another stellar performance filling in for Tyson Chandler at center. Tonight was as impressive of a game that he had all season and came against one of the more formidable front courts he has faced thus far in Al Horford and Paul Millsap. In 31 minutes of play Bargnani shot eight of 15 from the field, two of four from the three point line, and 11 rebounds. The 11 rebounds are the most in a game for Bargnani since January 7th, 2012. He also added two assists and another blocked shot. Bargnani will never be mistaken for a defensive juggernaut but his size and length does it make it somewhat challenging for opposing players to score around him. Bargnani is providing the second option the Knicks have lacked behind Carmelo Anthony, who scored 25 points on the night on nine of 25 shooting.
The role players for the Knicks all had solid games tonight. The bench gave some good minutes and contributions in their time on the court as Tim Hardaway Jr. picked the scoring slack right up for the second unit with J.R. Smith being inserted into the starting lineup. Kenyon Martin came in and settled the Knicks on the defensive end and performed well in his 17 minutes of play. Martin is still on a minutes limit but it has increased a little bit to about 15-20 minutes a game with a little wiggle room if need be. Pablo Prigioni doesn’t have stats that will jump out at you but once again the Knicks were at their best with him on the court. Prigioni finished with four assists, two steals and the second highest +/- ratio with +9 on the team.
For a majority of the game the ball movement was crisp and outstanding for the Knicks. They finished the night with 24 assists, 15 of which came in the first half, and only six total team turnovers. The Knicks did a good job of finding the open man and hitting their shots for the better part of the game, enabling them to get a big lead on the Hawks. On the contrary, the Knicks forced the Hawks into 15 total team turnovers, turning them into 23 points scored. When you are the team forcing turnovers and getting easy baskets good things usually happen.
The Knicks once again went into a lull on the offensive end for a long stretch of time as they allowed the Hawks to get back into the game. The main culprit for the 17 point first half lead being blown was the lack of ball movement as the Knicks reverted back to their ugly offense of isolations and a lot of standing around and watching. The Knicks need to find a way to keep stretches of play like that to a minimum and the onus for such things to happen falls upon Mike Woodson. He has to draw up more creative plays than tossing the ball to Anthony to keep the Knicks from becoming complacent on the offensive end.
The perimeter defense once again was abysmal for the Knicks. Raymond Felton is a revolving door at the point of attack for opposing point guards; no matter the skill level of the player going against Felton they seem to have an outstanding night. Tonight the beneficiary was Jeff Teague, who torched the Knicks to the tune of 25 points and eight assists. Sure Teague is one of the better up-and-coming point guards in the NBA but this is something that is happening way too often against Felton. Defending the perimeter has been very weak for the Knicks and there is really no excuse for it.