Breakthrough Emerges As Knicks Play Their Best Game Of The Season: Knicks 143 Hawks 120 Review

Photo by Emilee Chinn- Getty Images and from CBS NY

Recap

The Knicks came out hot, scoring 41 points in the 1st, the most they’ve scored in a quarter all season. Marcus Morris Sr. led the charge, scoring 13 points in the 1st Quarter, while the Knicks shot 58.3% from the floor and 62.5% from three as a team. New York never looked back, scoring over 30 points in all four quarters and scoring the most points they have in a game since 1980 (143).

Trae Young was able to have a tremendous night, despite his team’s struggles. Young finished with a game-high 42 points and added 8 assists, while shooting 55.2% from the field. One of Atlanta’s 1st round draft picks in the 2019 draft, De’Andre Hunter, also had a nice game (19 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists). For New York, six Knicks reached double figures in scoring. RJ Barrett had a breakout performance, scoring 27 points and grabbing 6 rebounds, on an efficient 10-13 (77%) shooting. The Knicks top guns, Marcus Morris Sr. (22 points in 22 minutes) and Julius Randle (17 points and 11 rebounds), had great games as well. Mitchell Robinson had a monster game off the bench, posting 22 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, a steal, and a team high plu-minus of +25. Kevin Knox (17 points and 3 steals) and Dennis Smith Jr. (8 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists) both had good games, which will hopefully help them build their confidence and start playing up to their potential.

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Why The Knicks Won

The Knicks won this game because of tremendous shooting, dominating the paint, moving the ball, and getting to the foul line. In short, the Knicks offense was fantastic. New York shot a slash of 55.8% FG, 46.4% 3P, and 77.4% FT. Those are well above their season averages (42.9%, 34.8%, 68.4%). The Knicks outscored Atlanta in the paint by a whopping 20 points (72-52). This was mainly thanks to Mitchell Robinson, RJ Barrett, and Julius Randle (combining for 44 PITP). The Knicks only recorded 246 passes (well below the usual goal of 300 set by Fizdale), but tallied 30 assists and moved the ball well. This was due to the Knicks playing at a much faster pace than usual (106.5) and quick decision making. They didn’t waste any time or passes in this one, finding open players early in the shot clock all night. All season, free throw shooting has been an issue for the Knicks (68.4%- last in the NBA), but they recorded 31 free throw attempts in this game, knocking down 24 of them (77.4%). Getting to the line over 30 times and shooting them at a high percentage, set the Knicks up for a major night offensively.

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Outlook

The Knicks have been playing better and better every game since Mike Miller has taken over. The Knicks are 3-3 under him and are playing much better offensively. New York have become much more aggressive and really attacking downhill, towards the rim, on offense. This is leading to more layups/dunks, free throw attempts, and open shots on the perimeter. The Knicks improved play will be tested in their next two games, facing the Miami Heat (20-8) and the Milwaukee Bucks (25-4).

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