By Zachary Lang
The Atlanta Hawks and their fresh uniforms stormed MSG last Thursday with some sensational play, downing the Knicks at home with a 112 to 101 victory. It wouldn’t be Atlanta basketball without an emphasis on the three-point game, which the team executed with precision. The Hawks overall shot an impressive 10 of 24 from beyond the arc, 41.7 percent to be exact. This is no surprise, as the Knicks defense was heavily criticized from last year despite their improvements coming into this season. Kyle Korver led the team in three-pointers, going 3 for 5 and 6 for 8 on overall shots. He finished with 15 total points, adding 7 rebounds and 2 assists to the box score.Embed from Getty Images
Jeff Teague continues to step up his game from last season as an All Star, leading the team with 23 points shooting 7 of 12 on the floor and 9 for 10 at the stripe. He also had for rebounds, 8 assists, and a steal. Even when Teague is absent from the game, backup point guard Dennis Schroder continues his dominance, adding 13 points shooting just over fifty percent. These point guards continue to thrive in this offense, pushing the fast break and shooting whenever the opportunity presents itself. Both player’s shots combined, they accounted for thirty-one percent of the team’s made field goals. If this continues, alongside Korver and Kent Bazemore, Atlanta’s backcourt could become nearly unstoppable.
The big men of this team are at the heart of the action with veteran Al Horford still producing at optimal levels. He was just shy of a double double, scoring 21 points with 9 rebounds and an impressive 3 blocks. Horford expanded his range multiple times, making two three-pointers as well as many mid-range jumpers, normally uncharacteristic of the big man, reducing his offensive time in the paint. Tiago Splitter, the newest addition from the championship Spurs’ team, scored 10 points off the bench in his second regular-season game and contributed a block. His involvement into Mike Budenholzer’s system continues to develop and will inevitably give this team continuous depth in the paint. All around, this team is one with a complete, all-around offensive mindset that is like no other in the league.
Paul Milsap had a dismal shooting performance, making just 3 of 11 shots with 11 total points in 35 minutes. However, he had 5 steals against a Knicks team that committed a total of 21 turnovers. The Knicks overall had a bad shooting night as they shot 40.9 percent from the field compared to the Hawk’s 50.6 percent. New York, compared to the three-point menace of Atlanta, shot an embarrassing 20.9 percent from downtown. The Knicks were missing starting shooting guard Arron Afflalo, who is currently out with a hamstring injury, is a deep-ball threat and has been described as thriving in Phil Jackson’s triangle offense. Until he is back and healthy, it is likely that the Knicks will have to rely on areas other than the three-point line to produce an offensive surge. Overall, New York simply did not have what it took to take down the defending number one seed of the Eastern Conference.Embed from Getty Images
Kristaps Porzingis, the number four overall pick in this past draft, drew the attention of many eyes thanks to his his improved play. He shot 4-10 and made both of his free throws, also accumulating 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, and a steal. His biggest moment was on that steal, pushing a one-on-one fastbreak and spinning out of the way of Paul Milsap to finish with a one handed jam that rocked the Garden. If anything, this rookie is proving critics wrong with his game, already starting for this Knicks team that looks to rebound from last year’s woes.
The Atlanta Hawks follow this emphatic win have three straight games against divisional opponents. The first game on October 30th at home against the Charlotte Hornets ended in a close 97-94 victory, led by Kent Bazemore’s 19 points. The Hawks then traveled to Charlotte, winning yet another close game against the Hornets, 94-92. Bazemore led in points again with 20 as 4 of 5 starters were in double figures.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise stated