Final Score: New York Knicks 113 Atlanta Hawks 112
The Knicks bounced back nicely from their poor performance Friday night against the Cavaliers, picking up a much needed win tonight if they will have any hope of moving up to the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. The team came out more focused tonight and with more energy, matching what was a very game Hawks squad. It will not be easy as they need to beat the Clippers and the Bobcats to finish off the season and have the Magic lose the rest of their games. For one night, things went according to plan. The Knicks also put a half game between themselves and the Philadelphia 76ers, whom they hold the tiebreaker against as well.
-Getting Things Together On Offense
For at least one night, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire looked like the lethal combination they were hyped up as being when the Knicks brought Anthony on board at last season’s trade deadline. Carmelo Anthony was lights out again, scoring 39 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Anthony was back in attack mode after taking a backseat it seemed in Cleveland Friday taking only 13 shots. He took 12 shots in the 1st quarter alone tonight. Stoudemire had a strong game as well, scoring 22 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. It was nice seeing Anthony and Stoudemire working hard on the glass in the absence of Tyson Chandler, who sat tonight because of what is being called a sore knee.
The performances of Anthony and Stoudemire tonight are significant because numbers suggest that Anthony and Stoudemire have had trouble co-existing with each other on the court, playing better when one of the two are sitting on the bench. Another reason of this being so encouraging is the team it came against. The Hawks have been firmly cemented in the playoffs and are no slouches on defense, ranking 5th in the NBA in overall team defense. It needs to be taken with a grain of salt because the Hawks have really nothing to play for the final games of the season, but they did play their full complement of players and came out trying to win the game.
-Total Team Effort
Anthony and Stoudemire were the vocal point of the offense tonight, but the other players did not stand around and watch. Landry Fields had one of his better games of late, finishing with 18 points on 7-8 shooting and an impressive 3-3 from 3 point range. Fields has played so bad of late that Mike Woodson benched him in favor of Iman Shumpert when Stoudemire returned Friday night; so it was encouraging to see him bounce back.
Baron Davis made his return to the lineup tonight and looked rejuvenated. He scored 13 points, knocking down 3-4 from 3 point range and handed out a season high 10 assists. If the Knicks can get performances nearly as great as this from Davis on a consistent basis in the playoffs, they will be that much more dangerous.
The bench was uncharacteristically quiet tonight, scoring only 10 points with the starters logging big minutes. The starting group did not disappoint though, with each player scoring in double figures.
-No Chandler, No Defense
Without Tyson Chandler manning the middle tonight for the Knicks their defense was not very stellar. Players got to the basket at will with very little resistance. One encouraging sign though was Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire dominating the boards in place of Chandler. Anthony and Stoudemire led the Knicks with 10 and 12 rebounds respectively, leading the Knicks to outrebound the Hawks 37-33.
The downside though was that the Knicks allowed the Hawks to shoot 53.9% from the field and 65.2% from the 3 point line. Luckily for them, the Hawks did not play any defense either, as the Knicks shot 54.4% from the field and a blistering 63.2% from the 3 point line. Both teams combined to knock down an absurd 27 combined 3 pointers.
The next game for the Knicks will be Wednesday at 8:00 against the Los Angeles Clippers a.k.a Lob City at the Garden.