Atlanta Hawks 107 – New York Knicks 126 – Game Recap

To paraphrase Dwyane Wade circa 2010, “Sorry if everyone thought we were going to go 0-82”. I guess this Hawks team was tailor made to get a thorough beating under the MSG lights on opening night!

So, with our first win under our belt, let’s take a look at what happened tonight!

The good:

– Tim Hardaway Jr. (31 pts. 6 rebs, 5 ast, +14 +/-) had a heck of an second quarter on offense. He just couldn’t miss (which was not true for the rest of the game, since he ended up shooting 10/22 from the field and 3 for 9 from three) in the historic second stanza, and that propelled the Knicks to a wide margin – and effectively to the victory, since they would never relinquish that lead for the night. Last time I wrote that his game screamed “empty calories”, this time he served us a healthy lasagna. That said, this was the same old Timmy: streaky as hell. prone to mediocre shot selection, not doing very much in the half-court offense. He also was extremely volatile in his defensive effort: this was very evident in the second quarter, when right in the middle of our scoring break Atlanta Hawks coach called a timeout with 7:59 remaining, after a fastbreak THJ dunk. Right after the timeout, Timmy completely forgot his defensive assignment and Kent Bazemore wound up drilling a totally uncontested corner three. Now, against the Hawks this might not be a problem, but during the course of the season, maybe down the wire in an exciting game? It could be a momentum stopper of huge proportions. Then again, aren’t we rooting for losses this year? So, yay Timmy!

– Noah Vonleh (12 pts, 10 rebs, 3 ast, +22 +/-) did a lot of damage in his 16 minutes. He kept the Knicks boat afloat in the first quarter, when our Bockers couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn, by ferociously attacking the offensive glass, getting fouled and throwing down a nice putback dunk. He was projected to be our third-string center, but got more minutes because Mitchell Robinson got semi-injured tweaking his ankle after a minute of play. Against a rebounding-challenged Atlanta team, Vonleh was deadly. It’s going to be hard for Mitch to keep his back up center slot in the rotation, but in the long run it could make him stronger, which is definitely not a bad thing. I’m doubling down on my bet that Vonleh will be this year’s KOQ in terms of endearment from the Garden crowd.

– Enes Kanter (16 pts, 11 rebs, 3 ast, +7 +/-) was the Enes that we learned to know, and that means the same crossbred result of making an Energizer bunny mate with a very wide and very ground bound oak and giving him a feathery touch around the rim. Strangely quiet in the first quarter, was held scoreless until 4:23 remaining in the second quarter. He finished the half with 10 points. Again, I know we’re not supposed to win a lot of games this season for our good, but I like to watch competitive losses, and Enes is probably our best bet to keep us in a lot of games. He’s just too good on the things that he does well (rebounding, inside scoring) and looks to be marginally improved on defense, especially on lateral movement.

– Allonzo Trier (15 pts, 4 rebs, 2 blk, +9 +/-) had definitely the best debut of all the rookies playing tonight. On a good night, like tonight, he is instant offense and looks the veteran part. Granted, we were playing against a glorified G-League team, but his poise in his first NBA game was a sight to behold. Coach David Fizdale probably was right in saying he has a real knack for chasedown blocks, as he stuffed people at the rim twice, and generally didn’t look too much out of place in the half-court defense. He also had a monster jam to end the second quarter, when he drove down the lane and challenged three Hawks to stop him from scoring; they failed, he slammed the ball with utter force and the Garden erupted. The moment was a little bit reminiscent of the early-KP putback dunks.

– Trey Burke (15 pts, 3 rebs, 4 ast, +14 +/-) ditched the preseason jitters and came back to last season form. He scored efficiently and smartly, even posting up Trae Young a couple times with good results. It’s a shame that he isn’t a good shot creator for others, otherwise he would be a sure bet to enjoy a long, starting point guard career. As it is, he’s probably best suited to bench energizer-stabilizer. Anyway, he’s by far our most polished point guard as of now and I feel Hawkeye-fine with him at the helm. Hawkeye as in “the plainest of plain Janes in the MCU”. Well, being average is better than being terrible, right?

The bad:

– Nobody really sh*t the bed tonight, but a special mention goes to the first quarter offense. The Knicks started 0 for 8 from the field and didn’t score until Frank Ntilikina connected on a long-range shot with 7:52 to go in the first quarter (shout out to my man Frank for netting the first field goal of the Knicks season!). To put that into perspective, a fan scored before any Knicks could, hitting the half court shot during a timeout with 8:03 remaining and cashing for his effort a hefty 10.000 dollars, or 1/650 of Joakim Noah cap hit for the next three years.

Truth be told, our offense keeps on being underwhelming. Yeah, we scored 126 tonight but it didn’t feel like a single bucket came from organized half-court play. I’m not sure what’s the problem here, but Fiz needs to be more imaginative with stuff, otherwise in nights when our opponents don’t turn the rock over 24 times and don’t get crashed on the boards we’re in for horrendous spurts of rim-clunking.

Fun-sized bits:

– The 49 points scored in the second quarter are the most ever scored by a Knicks team in that period. That’s no small feat, especially when we don’t run many successful plays.

– The Knicks apparently chose coach Fiz to be the cheerleading spokesperson on the Jumbotron. That’s a really smart choice, seeing as Fizdale oozes charisma from every pore. He’s a really great communicator, and people genuinely seems to be stoked when around him. There was a nice exchange between Fiz and Kanter in the second quarter after a broken play that got salvaged by an errant Hawks foul where you could really see the chemistry broiling.

– The Knicks also chose Lance Thomas to address the crowd before the game. Let’s just say I’m way more passionate when ordering a Big Mac speaking gibberish after a night of partying.

– Vince Carter was starting tonight. The dude is 41 and was the only Hawks starter posting a positive plus/minus. Did I mentions that the Hawks are hot garbage? Trae Young, though, was better than I expected (not that I expected much).

– Frank had a good game, with an excellent first quarter, especially on defense. He played a lot of minutes (34, more than anyone else in the game) and was his usual defensive self. He also was his usual offensive self, clearly overthinking in a couple occasions and rushing his shot in another couple. His crossover in the third was sick, as was his finish at the rim, but his handle is still loose and high. He was the only Knicks playing more than one minute who posted a negative plus minus for the night. Hoping this doesn’t become a trend. Overall, though, he was decorous at the very least.

– Knox was a mixed bag. He shoots from the right areas, as DRed noted in the comments a few days ago, but shoots very badly. His forays at the rim are terrible, as he contorts his body in strange ways, probably to avoid contact, and his go-to move right now seems to be an awkward floater from anywhere inside the paint (nothing that his scouting report didn’t mention). I mean, the kid shot 4 for 16 and notched 10 points. Anyway his motor looks better than advertised and there’s no sense of entitlement in him. I doubt he’ll ever be a star, but a decent contributor at 9 is not that bad.

– Baker was cool as the back up point guard. A zero on offense (save for his 4 assists) but a total pest on defense and pretty much never in over his head. He’s so, so much better than Mudiay at this basketball thing.

– Hezonja’s game is all over the place, but tonight his effort level was much better, deflecting balls here and there in the second quarter and going for nice drives. His body language is still horrible, but this kind of good J.R. Smith-lite games are a welcome sight.

– NBA League Pass has introduced a new feature this year that allows you to keep track in real time of stats and stuff. Sometimes it throws at you the most random stuff, like “Taurean Prince just tied Craig Ehlo for 16th in the all-time Hawks 3pts made leaderboard with 210”. NBA League Pass: making life easier for recappers around the globe.

– Mike Breen and Clyde are such a class act. I missed them so much along the summer.

And that’s it! 1-0, undefeated, baby! Let’s see what our guys will do against the Nets on Friday. Until then, let’s debate about whether or not Courtney Lee deserves to be traded for half a sack of potatoes.


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Just an Italian basketball fan with an insane passion for all things Knicks (and yes, linguine Alfredo is not a real Italian dish).

36 thoughts to “Atlanta Hawks 107 – New York Knicks 126 – Game Recap”

  1. Nice, Farfa!

    Clearly, Fiz is going to play the kids a bunch of meaningful minutes and expect a high level of energy out of his players on both ends. Obviously the level of talent/experience will result in lots of L’s but it’s refreshing to see that kind of commitment to youth. Fiz’s act is cool for the time being, although I wonder if it will get old, like Herm Edwards’ act did as Jets coach.

  2. Yeah, it’s definitely an act that can only stay fresh so long. While it’s fresh, though, it’s, well, you know, fresh.

  3. Great recap Farfa!

    Missed the thread last night but my quick thoughts:

    This team is so much younger and more athletic than any Knicks team since…. I don’t know, forever? The Hawks are hot garbage, of course, but the pace of the game was 112 vs. last year’s 97 average.

    I know we all want to trade Timmy and think his contract is terrible, but the dude has really improved so much since his first stint here. He is so much quicker now despite being older. But yes, it would be interesting to count up how many wide open corner 3’s his guy hits this year — he is always asleep 2 steps closer to the rim in no man’s land than he should be. Good teams are going to target that over and over.

    Knox looked, frankly, awful. Some of those jumpers will go in, but he is totally out of control going to the basket right now. He’s not getting those bail out calls like he got in summer league — he’s going to have to take it stronger with another dribble to get to the cup rather than floater territory.

    Trier looks legit. That yam at the end of the first half was freaking awesome.

    Frank looks…fine? Ok? Definitely not great. He and Ron Baker as a defensive backcourt is pretty solid. Baker tortured Trae Young (if I were one of the 5 Hawks fans in the world, I would be quite worried about Trae “I got posted and abused by Trey Burke” Young).

    I kinda legit think Enes might average 20 and 15 per 36 this year. I thought he looked surprisingly ok on defense — gave help when necessary and didn’t have any obvious gaffes. This was, of course, against Atlanta.

    Vonleh amazingly is averaging 26.4 points, 22 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per 36 this year on 88.8 TS. If he can keep this up, I think he’s an MVP candidate. Has anyone ever finished the season with a +61.5 net rating? Meanwhile I can’t believe he’s only 23 years old – he could easily pass for 40. He looks older than Vince.

  4. Yeah, I still don’t know how Hawks fans will deal with the team trading Doncic for Young. I actually like Young, but that trade was still so freakin’ dumb.

  5. A couple other interesting notes:

    Frank with the most minutes – I like it. Give him some run.

    Dotson with a DNP-CD? Not sure where he’s going to get minutes if Trier is on the court a lot, especially when Courtney Lee is back.

    Mudiay inactive – I hope that is a recurring theme. Will be interesting to see who Mills/Perry cut when Trier’s 45 days are up. If they actually like Kornet I wonder whether they’ll cut him then re-sign him to Trier’s vacated 2-way.

  6. Great work, Farfa.

    In terms of the offensive design, Fiz has been pretty candid that his focus so far has been on defensive effort and getting out in transition. Both of which were clearly on display last night, albeit against a garbage team. He hasn’t set up much of an offense yet, and when you combine that with a roster of players who mostly don’t look to pass first, you’re gonna get a lot of iso in the half court. It’s not ideal, but one step at a time.

    Liked a lot of what I saw last night, even factoring in how godawful the Hawks are without Collins. I’ll keep pounding the drum for Frank to run the second unit offense, though. When Burke was out of the game, Ron usually played point, even though good things often happened on the occasions where Frank had the ball in his hands.

    Knox’s offensive game is a mess so far, but the motor has been great, as has his attitude. He seems coachable and our coaches are allegedly good at development. If they can get him to go stronger at the rim, there could be something there. He’s the youngest Knick ever, and we’re not going to be good this season, nights like this excepted. Let him take his lumps and see if he can figure it out.

  7. He definitely had some rookie moments, but in general he looked good outside of his bad shooting line (pretty much no Maverick had a good shooting line, though).

  8. Thanks everyone! I hope I’ll soon cut down the occasional typos here and there.


    They said that Mudiay was inactive for ankle issues, if I remember correctly. I don’t know if he really slipped behind Baker in the rotation.

  9. Boban had 18 points and 8 rebounds in 17 minutes, 6-8 shooting. He’s so unstoppable inside.

  10. Way to go Farfa!

    I agreed in particular on the clunky half court play,
    hope that playing together and get to know each other better will help ease the problem.

    I like the playing time for the kids, let them learn from mistakes.

    I know is not tanketically correct, but I really want to kick those (advanced) media darlings Nets’ ass.

  11. To be honest I don’t mind racking up wins now. I know, a win is a win is a win and all of them count on the final record, but you can’t really expect not to compete and eventually win some games against the Eastern Conference cellar dwellers at this point of the season. I’m much more scared of the post All-Star break period, where we could end up winning useless games against much stronger western competition, just because they dropped out of the playoff race.

    That said, it was fun to recap a win!

  12. I mean, we cannot expect to lose at home to Atlanta without Collins and Dedmon. The very fact that those two are some of the best Hawks players says everything one needs to know about the Hawks already.

    Schedule wise this is probably the easiest possible game out of all the 82 games.

    This team will lose a lot of games, specially given how inconsistent THJ is, and it became clear last night that he’s going to be responsible for a very large part of the offense. If Fizdale keeps this super young rotation, with all the guys like Ntilikina, Knox, Trier, Burke, Robinson, Vonleh etc playing major minutes, I’m fine with whichever way the season goes.

    Outside of the result, the most encouraging thing was actually how great Fizdale’s rotations were. Lance started but then barely saw the floor, every young guy except Dotson saw plenty of time in many different lineups. That’s what the Knicks should be doing and I’m glad he really seems to be on board.

  13. It definitely was good to see the full rotation, and not just in garbage time. We all remember the days of “why is Carmelo, etc. still playing in the fourth quarter” of blowouts

  14. @10

    I’m watching the game right now. Boban is very often a easily winded cheat code against second units. When he’s near the basket he’s unfair.

  15. If you want a laugh, look at b-r and check out our advanced stats based on 1 game. For example, Mitchell Robinson may have had the most productive minute in NBA history.

  16. This team is gonna suck and we all know that but I like the way Fizdale is coaching them. Guys are in the right place on offense and especially on defense and it looks like there’s actually a plan being implemented.

    Sort of a condemnation of Horny, I never got that feeling at all watching the Knicks when he was coach.

  17. Sort of a condemnation of Horny, I never got that feeling at all watching the Knicks when he was coach.

    Fizdale had better rotations in one game than Horny had in his entire time here. Fizdale seems like he is coaching with a logical purpose. Horny just seems incompetent in retrospect.

  18. Fizdale had better rotations in one game than Horny had in his entire time here. Fizdale seems like he is coaching with a logical purpose. Horny just seems incompetent in retrospect.

    One more time—Thanks Phil!!!!

  19. Great stuff Farfa, really enjoyed it.

    Some interesting stuff around the league last night. Utah beat the Kings but the starting unit +/- was kind of crazy. KB fave Willie Cauley Stein had 23 and was a +17 on 10-15 shooting. Harry Giles was a -23 in 10 minutes.

    Very nice debut for Ayton.

    AD had a mathematically intriguing night, 32/16/8 with one turnover against the Rockets. I’d be all in on getting him.

    Good night for the Indiana second unit, Domantas Sabonis in the house.

    Kawhi’s thigh, perfect name for a new Raptors blog, seems to be healed. Looks like a pretty good team.

    Kevin Love has to feel a little strange as the star of the new cleveland cavaliers.

    Melo was awful last night, though Harden wasn’t great either. Enough said about that…

  20. The Pelicans front court was downright insane, completely dominant. Davis, Mirotic and Randle took turns shredding the Rockets all over the court, and even Elfrid Payton played pretty well and had a triple double. The Pelicans might really be sneaky good. If they had a star wing player to go with Davis they would be such a scary contender.

    I think Davis really is the dream adquisition, even more than Giannis or Durant. He’s just unstoppable and incredibly impactful on defense. This might be the year he gets MVP.

  21. I think everyone might need to pump the breaks on an AD trade demand. That team might actually be a 50 win group this year, and Jrue Holiday is a nasty defender. Anthony Davis is going to actively assert himself as the best player in the league this year and I can’t imagine a league MVP candidate would demand a trade, especially when you know New Orleans is going to offer him the supermax.

  22. Yeah, and if things go south in NOLA, the Celtics and Lakers can both blow us out of the water in terms of AD trade proposals — maybe even if we’d be willing to make Porzingis the centerpiece of such a trade. I might look at them as a team we could send Lee to if they feel he’d be an upgrade over Wesley Johnson, something like this.

  23. From last night…

    Looking around the NBA there just doesn’t seem to be much of a market for shooting guards. Toronto and Philly could use one, but we play them 4 times a year. Orlando could use one, too, but Fournier is on a big contract. Cleveland doesn’t have their 1st round pick or anybody I’d want. OKC could use Timmy but they have nothing of value.

    I can only see Tim Jr being used in a trade for Jimmy Butler, and the Knicks didn’t even call Minnesota. Maybe they’ll try to move him and the farm to New Orleans for Anthony Davis this off season, but again I just don’t see it happening.

    There is one potential long shot trade for Tim Hardaway: Sacramento. Two reasons I say that:

    1. They just offered Zach LaVine literally the same exact stupid contract. It’s so similar I think they just copied and pasted it and changed the name. Zach and Tim are equally mediocre. Maybe if you squint you can see more upside in Zach. But Sacramento thought it was worth it because they don’t want to be shit and they know they have to overpay just to get mediocre talent.

    2. They have no pick this year, so no motivation to tank.

    Bonus reason: they’re dumb.

    I admit it’s a long shot, but if anyone is going to trade for Hardaway, it’s them.

  24. But if we’re fantasizing about AD coming here, Kanter + KP + Frank for Davis works salary cap-wise (they’d have to throw in Darius Miller). How many picks would we have to add to that package? And how much are you comfortable giving away above Porzingis himself to get a guy who is already what we dream KP can grow into?

  25. Long time lurker here. First time poster!

    I REALLY like Fiz’s rotations. It felt like he called timeouts when he should’ve and put “balanced” lineups on the floor while giving most people the appropriate burn. I also thought the pace was great. It was a refreshing change from Isosceles Me7o and the Rambis Effect. I thought they had shot a good number of 3’s, but after looking at the box score: 33!?! These guys are going to lose a lot of games, no doubt, but its encouraging to see some of the things we saw last night and a move to a modern NBA scheme.

    No need to continue to echo most of what was said, but holy hell Trier was a steal, Lance is still useless, and Frank’s handle looked much tighter than last year. He had a few behind the backs and drives that looked fluid and aggressive. Baker should really learn how to shoot if he wants to keep playing in the NBA and Fiz should slap Knox every time he throws up one of those cupcake floaters. He’s not Rod Strickland.

  26. But if we’re fantasizing about AD coming here

    I’m arguably the most optimistic person here when it comes to potential player acquisition, and even I’m not entertaining the thought of this.

  27. Fiz should slap Knox every time he throws up one of those cupcake floaters.

    The form on Knox’s outside shot looks good, and he shot well in college, so I’m not worried yet that his jumpers aren’t falling. But the coaching staff’s number one priority with him will be to improve his game around the rim. Going to the rack with greater strength and decisiveness changes everything about his game.

  28. If I’m the Knicks and want to make a big splash in free agency, I’m keeping my eyes on the Damian Lillard situation up in Portland. They made no effort to get better after they got swept in the 1st round, and their ownership situation is going to get worse just because it’s hard to be a better owner than Paul Allen. If things get rocky out in Jowlesland, I would offer Burke, Hardaway Jr, Knox, and a top 7 protected 1RP (that moves to top 12 protection the following year) at the deadline and see if they bite.

  29. Yeah, to be clear, we will never get AD. But if I am going to let myself daydream about someone, it would be him. Or Giannis.

  30. I only watched the first half, but the western conference equivalent of Hawks-Knicks was pretty interesting. Doncic was good in the first quarter but then stopped hitting shots. Dallas looked pretty shitty overall. Phoenix looked surprisingly frisky. Ayton seems to have some problems recognizing what the offense is doing on defense, but he looked really really good on offense. Trevor Ariza also savagely shook someone off the dribble which is something I didn’t know he could do.

  31. Ayton is going to have some problems on defense but he is a load offensively. He may eventually look like a more athletic version of KAT, and that is very scary.

    He’s definitely not better than Jaren Jackson Jr, though. You all wait and see.

  32. He’s definitely not better than Jaren Jackson Jr, though. You all wait and see.

    I’m still pissed we passed on SGA. He was clearly the better option at 9, but if MitchLob keeps up his TS% on that totally sustainable usage I won’t be that upset.

  33. Nice job, Farfa, thanks. And in your second language! Impressive.

    What’s funny is I’m about as angry over Knox/SGA as I am happy about Trier and Robinson. I guess it balances out, but we are so asset depleted that blowing it with Knox if a real problem.

    Then again, it isn’t just one game, it’s his first season. I was willing to give Frank a couple years to grow, so I guess I should shut up. Maybe in two years it won’t look like as bad a blunder as it looks now (and looked on draft night).

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