That headline is not a typo. Tonight the Knicks held an opponent to less than 80 points for the first time since a 102-73 win over the Nets on April 15 of last year. The Hawks shot 45% from the field, got to the line only 9 times, and committed a woeful 19 turnovers en route to 79 points on 90 possessions. Considering the Knicks typically allow 109 points per 100 possessions, this was a considerable step up in defensive performance against an above-average offense.
Where did it come from? Hard to say. Turiaf was out, replaced by 27 minutes of Jared Jeffries. Jeffries didn’t strike me as having an exceptional defensive game, but the Hawks did seem to settle for a lot of mid-range jumpers (on which they were generally very unsuccessful), so maybe his presence counted for more than I noticed. The Hawks got 17 from J-Smoove, 15 from Kirk Hinrich, and 14 from our old frenemy Jamal Crawford, but aside from Hinrich everyone got their points at a pretty inefficient clip.
For their part, the Knicks scored a pedestrian 92 points on 90 possessions, including 26 on 20 shots from Amar’e, 15 on 11 shots from Landry Fields, and an UnMelonian 14-7-7 line on a slightly more Melonian 6/18 shooting clip from the Big Volumizer. Extra E made 4 threes and grabbed 6 rebounds. Anthony Carter turned into Vinnie “The Microwave” Johnson for a few minutes in the second half.
To my eyes, this one had more to do with the Hawks having an off-game than the Knicks turning into the ’89 Pistons overnight. But no matter the cause, the Knicks got a 13 point win on the road against a good team and they got some late-game rest for a couple key players on the first night of a back-to-back. Ugly as it was, that’s a result you’ll take any day.
So what do you guys think, improved Knicks D or just incompetent Hawks offense? Do we want to see Jeffries take more of Turiaf’s minutes long term (I don’t)? What to do with all of our marginal wing players who are suddenly all demanding more PT with their play (Extra E, Anthony Carter, even Roger Mason’s Son)?