By Kenneth Teape (@teapester725)
Saturday, December 14th, 2013
Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks
Post Game Recap
What a difference a night makes. After losing in Boston last night the Knicks put in a great effort tonight at Madison Square Garden to defeat the Hawks 111-106. It was an outstanding team effort for a squad playing their fourth game in five nights and after looking so lackluster just 24 hours prior. The Knicks came into the game shorthanded with Kenyon Martin suffering an injury last night and Amar’e Stoudemire’s status up in the air up as a game-time decision but put together a great team performance to get the win. The Knicks moved to 7-16 on the season and will play again Monday night at the Garden again against the Washington Wizards.
Player of the Game: Pablo Prigioni
|AP Photo/John Minchillo|
Throughout the early part of the season head coach Mike Woodson had been hesitant to start Prigioni but it is becoming harder and harder for Woodson to keep him out of the lineup. Prigioni got the offense and defense going tonight as he had momentous play after momentous play. Prigioni righted the ship when the Hawks cut the Knicks 14-point lead to only four early on in the fourth quarter with his steady play. He nailed a three-pointer to put the Knicks up 10 and then got a steal and layup to put the Knicks up 12. To top it off he threw a beautiful behind the back pass to Andrea Bargnani, who subsequently knocked down a three-pointer to give the Knicks a 15 point lead. On the night Prigioni scored 11 points, had one rebound, six assists and four steals. He shot the ball efficiently, knocking down 3-6 from the three point line and 4-8 from the field overall. Prigioni played 30+ minutes on back-to-back nights, which could be a concern in the future with the heavy minute load but for now Prigioni looks ready and willing to play as many minutes as needed.
Carmelo Anthony’s leadership has been outstanding all season and he continued it tonight. Anthony had an efficient scoring night, going 13-22 from the field (3-5 3pt, 6-6FT) for a game high 35 points, adding six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Anthony has become more than just an offensive juggernaut as he is the player patting players on the back and keeping spirits up. When your best player is as committed to winning as Anthony seems to be it is hard for everyone else not to fall in place.
Anthony was not alone in the scoring department tonight as Bargnani broke out of his December slump in a big way. Bargnani was even more efficient than Anthony, shooting 11-16 from the field (1-3 3pt) and grabbing six rebounds of his own. He also added two steals and a block as well as his defense continues to surprise people. Tonight he was tasked with slowing down the talented Al Horford and he held him to a very quiet 17 points and six rebounds after going for 34 and 15 last night. Bargnani is looking more and more comfortable in the pick-and-roll and pick-and-pop and is greatly benefiting from the expanded playing time with Prigioni as the point guard.
Amar’e Stoudemire showed a lot of heart and dedication to the team tonight by suiting up. After last night’s game he did not think he was going to play but once Martin was announced out Stoudemire decided he had to get on the court. Stoudemire had his minutes limited a bit tonight, playing only 19, but he gave an impactful 19 minutes. Stoudemire scored nine points and grabbed five offensive rebounds to go along with them. He did not have any blocks or steals tonight but he forced a couple of turnovers and is looking as active as ever on the defensive end.
The Knicks defense deserves a little credit for the amount of turnovers the Hawks had tonight. The Hawks totaled 27 team turnovers on the night that the Knicks converted into 36 points. On the contrary the Knicks had only 11 turnovers that the Hawks turned into 16 points. The massive turnover differential was the driving force in the Knicks victory tonight as it enabled the Knicks to attempt 21 more shots from the field. Tonight was also the first time this season that the Knicks had more free throw attempts than their opponent. Jeff Teague was also held to a very pedestrian game, scoring only four points and handing out six assists but turning the ball over four times.
Woodson’s coaching has been under fire previously but tonight he showed some guts in benching JR Smith. Woodson rode the hot hands in Tim Hardaway Jr. and Iman Shumpert down the stretch and as a result the Knicks were able to pull out a victory. With Shumpert and Smith both in the starting lineup Woodson’s decision making becomes much easier; whichever of them is playing better will get the minutes alongside Hardaway Jr.
The Knicks are lucky the Hawks turned the ball over so often or this game would have been a blowout. The Hawks shot the lights out, shooting 60.6 percent for the game and 46.9 percent from the three point line. If not for the huge gap in shot attempts, its cringe worthy thinking of what would have happened to the Knicks.
|Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports|
The defense may have been able to slow down Jeff Teague but the other guards on the team had a field day against the Knicks. Shelvin Mack came off the bench and delivered another productive game, scoring 10 points, grabbing five rebounds and handing out two assists. Lou Williams one upped him and scorched the nets throughout the night. Williams scored a team-high 27 points, adding two rebounds and three assists. The Knicks still need to tighten up the perimeter defense sooner than later.
Smith’s struggles continued and his body language was unacceptable. With his team winning Smith could be seen mopping on the bench and looking disappointed in not being on the court at the end of the game. Smith does not deserve to get playing time if he is not playing well and Woodson is right in playing the other guys ahead of him right now. Smith said the right things in his post game interview but his actions said otherwise.