Statistical Analysis. Humor. Knicks.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Knicks 102, Hawks 90

[Ed's note: My apologies to Jim, for not seeing this sooner.]

The game right before the All-Star break can be a wildcard. Some teams use it as momentum for the home stretch, while others look at is as no more than a glorified practice, essentially taking an extra night off.

While the Hawks were more than obliged to play the latter role, the Knicks looked eager to exorcise the bewildering demons of the teams’ first two match ups – both disappointing, low-energy losses – and capitalized on the Hawks’ obvious disinterestedness en route to a 102-90 win which saw New York net a TS% of 57%.

After three days of no games, ever-heightening Melo Drama, and with a sizable rest right around the corner, no one was quite sure which brand of Knicks would show up tonight. Would it be the team which, lacking their hobbled leader and co-Captain, eeked out an ugly-but-gutsy win against the Nets on Saturday? Or would it be the motley crew that hadn’t shot over 50% from the field in the six games prior, while allowing their opponents to break that threshold five times in the same span?

In the end, it was neither. Instead, what we got was a Knicks team both fired up and honed-in turning in a performance not seen since they dismantled the Spurs on January 4th. The result was an impressive, encouraging, and consistent (they very nearly scored 26 EVERY quarter) effort that saw five players score in double figures, lead most effectively by a seemingly rejuvenated Wilson Chandler’s 20 on 15 shots (including one reverse alley-oop from Felton which, if you’re honest with yourself, had you too thinking twice about including him so readily in a package for Melo).

While neither had spectacular games shooting, both Stoudemire (23 on 17 shots) and Felton (13 on 16 shots) contributed in other ways, with Stat recording three blocks and Felton dishing 11 dimes with 2 steals and a block of his own. Amar’e in particular didn’t seem fazed much by his sprained toe, which bodes well for him starting Sunday’s All Star game. Meanwhile everyone’s favorite Fields chipped in a vintage (that’s right, he’s that cool) 11 points on 5 shots (including 2 angry treys right in a pesky Mike Bibby’s grill) with 9 rebounds (all defensive), 5 assists and 2 steals.

But perhaps the most impressive – or at least nerve-calming – performance came from Gallo, who looked explosive early, even when his first few outside shots went amiss. He ended the night with 17 on 12 shots (3-8 from downtown, 4 for 4 from the line), along with 9 rebounds. He also did a more-than-serviceable job on Joe Johnson, making him work for many of his 11 points (on 12, mostly contested shots).

The first quarter started off like a game of swamp volleyball, with the two teams combining to go 9/25 from the floor.  However, after an Atlanta timeout (taken while they were ahead), the Knicks came out in a much better rhythm, scoring the next 9 points en route to a 26-19 lead at the end of the first.

The Hawks began the game getting what they wanted in the paint. But the Bockers buckled down, forcing the Hawks into deeper, largely contested jump shots. And though the Hawks ended up shooting an eFG% of 52% (including 11-22 from three), their inability to get to the free throw line resulted in a 12 point differential at the stripe –the exact difference in the game – as the Knicks went 17-21 compared to the Hawks’ 5-9.

Other than Bibby (15 on 8 shots, including 5 threes and no FTs), Horford (a very quiet 12 on 6 shots, also no FTs), and Marvin (if that’s your first name, you don’t need a last… he had 17 on 14 shots, and only 2FTs), the Hawks were pretty much in third gear for most of the game, never finding a coherent rhythm and deferring too often to the kind of isolation basketball they’ve supposedly grown out of. Meanwhile the Knicks did their part to limit the Hawks’ possessions, outrebounding Atlanta 44-38 and pushing the tempo to the tune of 18 fast break points.

Though helped in part by Atlanta’s malaise, for the second game in a row the Knicks played impressive D, holding Atlanta mostly in check while tallying as many blocks as steals (7). The second unit in particular showed a defensive tenacity that could become their hallmark down the home stretch, helping close out an impressive half that ended with the Knicks up 13.

The Hawks never got closer than 7 in what was a mostly pedestrian second half, punctuated by multiple dagger-ettes from Fields, Gallo, and Felton.

Unfortunately, Round 2 of Williams v. Williams was not to be. Although things started getting a little testy towards the end, with Horford and Felton – of all people – going jaw to jaw for a moment before the cooler heads of Stoudemire and Josh Smith – of all people – stepped in to keep things in check. On a bizarre NBA night that saw the Cavaliers beat the Lakers and both the Celtics and Heat struggle with far inferior opponents, Al Horford did his best Amar’e Stoudemire impression, racking up a technical and generally imparting a Stoudemire-of-six-years-ago demeanor that made it easy for Stat to come out of this week’s bulletin back-and-forth victorious.

And now on to a much needed All-Star Break which arrives with as many questions as it does potential thrills. Will Stat suit up? Will Blake Superior literally throw his entire body, and the ball, through the rim? Will this be the greatest All-Star Game ever? Will we be any closer next Monday to a closing of the Melo Drama than we are today? Is Stephen A. Smith really that bitter?

Whatever the answers to these questions, the now 28-26 Knicks can know one thing for sure: they’re the first to be over .500 at the All-Star break since the Bockers of 2000-01. Back when the only Felton we knew was Felton Spencer.

18 comments on “Knicks 102, Hawks 90

  1. Spree8nyk8

    Prokhorov said today on espn.com that his stance has not changed and rumors about NJ re-entering discussions are false. This once again is espn propaganda just to draw interest to a story that really has none until realistic discussions begin.

    If this is true however I think it’s a major sign that Denver is panicking as it represents the 2nd or 3rd time that Denver has tried to manipulate the Knicks into increasing their offer by bluffing the Knicks. In my opinion it represents desperation and shows that Denver clearly has no intention of actually playing hardball and holding onto Anthony and rolling the dice. Walsh should stand firm (not saying he should lowball like the original offer, but he shouldn’t mortgage the team either) and wait it out. Denver is going to cave. I read earlier some “expert” said he thought it in the end it would be Chandler/Felton/AR (minny pick)/curry and some cash for Billups/Melo. I really hate losing Felton but I can live with it.

    Hey guys just think, next season we’ll get to live this all over again when the season starts with Paul demanding a trade…..

  2. Nick C.

    Nice write up Jim. “Swamp volleyball” lol

    Anyone have a take on how or who helped clamp down on the paint and force the contested J’s (except for Bibby’s which seemed to be wide open albeit off pick/screens). I thought I read from someone at the game that Moz seemd to be a factor and as almost always, Turiaf coming in.

  3. Brian Cronin

    including one reverse alley-oop from Felton which, if you’re honest with yourself, had you too thinking twice about including him so readily in a package for Melo

    I honestly just thought “maybe this will make him more appealing to Denver.”

  4. d-mar

    Wouldn’t you think at this point someone from the Knicks camp would be reaching out to someone from the Melo camp and saying: “Look, we know you’re nervous about the deadline and you want something to get done. But the longer we wait, the better it is for both of us, because you’ll be joining a team that didn’t have to give up 3 starters. So hang in there, we will make a deal with Denver, but it might not happen until 2/24″ And he can make it easier by just saying publicly that he has no intention of signing an extension with the Nets. Either way, I think we all agree (unlike the media) that, as Mick Jagger would say, “time is on our side”.

  5. Jafa

    “And now on to a much needed All-Star Break which arrives with as many questions as it does potential thrills. Will Stat suit up? … Is Stephen A. Smith really that bitter?”

    Hahahahaha….is Stephen A. Smith really that bitter? No, I think he is just trying to make some noise upon his return to ESPN and grab some attention, and what better way to do so that take a forceful stance on the top story in the league right now, albeit at the expense of the Knicks.

    Reading lots of articles that are either confirming or denying the Nets involvement, including one having the Nets sending 4 1st round draft picks to Denver (isn’t this way more than the original agreement? How do you walk away from a trade and then come back and offer more when the other party is now more desperate than ever? Makes no sense). Then I looked up the Nets record this year and they are currently 17-40 and 8 and 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the East.

    So Melo is going to agree to an extension with a team that:
    - has already lost 40 games with it’s current roster (horrible supporting cast)
    - will need him to play and work even harder (average like 30+ points or something) as the primary offensive weapon just to get them into the playoffs and have the honor of being swept away by Boston or Miami
    - the trade will cost them some of their current players (Favors, Harris and fodder) which will make the supporting cast even worse than it is
    - future roster building efforts will be even more difficult (could use those picks to either get good players in the draft or trade for good players with other teams)
    - got shut out of the 2010 banner free agency year (not a good free agent signing track record)
    - will play in Newark one more year (and will be first round fodder at best again)

    I mean the list goes on and on…if he does this then he’s probably not as smart as we think (at least not as smart as his buddies in South Beach).

  6. Jafa

    d-mar: Wouldn’t you think at this point someone from the Knicks camp would be reaching out to someone from the Melo camp and saying: “Look, we know you’re nervous about the deadline and you want something to get done. But the longer we wait, the better it is for both of us, because you’ll be joining a team that didn’t have to give up 3 starters. So hang in there, we will make a deal with Denver, but it might not happen until 2/24? And he can make it easier by just saying publicly that he has no intention of signing an extension with the Nets. Either way, I think we all agree (unlike the media) that, as Mick Jagger would say, “time is on our side”.  

    d-mar, for all we know the Knicks have already done this. After all, we hired a front office executive who uses the same agents as Melo, so it not impossible to think that some back channel communication isn’t already happening.

    Don’t underestimate Donnie. He has been through this with LBJ and must now know the value of back channel communication.

  7. ess-dog

    d-mar, you took the words literally out of my keypad.

    Just stop breathe and think. The Nets new “offer” makes no sense. If that trade went down, they would just have to pray that CP3 or Howard would come to Brooklyn to play with a sub-.500 team at free agency AND also hope their teams don’t trade them ahead of that.

    That would be the only hope they have left after the Melo trade and that has about a 1% chance of happening. They wouldn’t be able to draft talent. They have cap room to sign some B-players but that won’t get them over the top ever.

    Melo has to know that a move like that to NJ would kill all title hopes.

    Frankly, the Nets best move would be to do a trade without Melo signing the extension. Maybe give up Favors, ONE draft pick and Murphy. A. You save a ton of assets and B. Once Melo is there it might not be so hard to talk him into staying. Then at least you still have Harris and your picks.

  8. bockadoo

    Do we have a plan B here? Do we stand pat, get a 6,7,8 seed, get our guys some playoff experience, up their trade values? Do we go after Sessions, Dalembert, Brooks, Pryzbilla… I hope we keep AR, but then again, how bad must this guy be in practice? He would seem to bring what we need – rebounding and defense – ease him into the rotation, not taking shots away from anyone…Is Azu coming back soon? Maybe we should keep everyone but Chandler since we’re going to lose him anyway. Trade him for a first rounder and back up point or big?

  9. cgreene

    Looks like we are going to war with what we have. Would love to swoop in and offer AR and Curry’s expiring for Nene and then hit Cleveland for Ramon Sessions as our backup PG

    Starters:
    Ray
    Landry
    Gallo
    Stat
    Nene

    Bench:
    Wilson
    Sessions
    TD
    Extra E
    Rony
    Moz

    Deep team

  10. Nick C.

    For the Nets sake hope its its more Shaq or Kareem to LA or KG to Boston than Herschel Walker to the Vikings (which is what comes to mind with the proposed NYK lopsided offers) even though Melo is not at the level of any of those 4.

  11. Brian Cronin

    Thanks for the link, cgreene, I was wondering where you were coming from before that.

    Anyhow, I’ll believe that deal when I see Carmelo agree to it. Otherwise, it’s no more “real” than the three-way deal with Detroit.

  12. Jafa

    cgreene: meant to post this link w my prior post
    http://www.northjersey.com/sports/pro_sports/basketball/knicks/021811_Nets_Nuggets_reach_agreement_now_its_up_to_Carmelo_Anthony_to_say_yes.html  

    This is like Dejavu. Didn’t they reach an agreement months ago and were waiting for Melo to sign off on it, and when he didn’t, they got mad and walked away from the table? Now they have reached another agreement and are again waiting for Melo to sign off. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

    I’m so glad I’m not a Nets fan. If these reports are true (big “IF”), then Billy King must be the dumbest GM out there and that Russian billionaire must be as bad an owner as Jim Dolan.

  13. Jafa

    I can’t get over that number. 4 first round picks? Who is worth 4 first round picks? Most stars get traded for 2 first and a prospect. So technically, that’s like trading 3 picks. But 4? I mean is Melo more valuable than Pau or KG. Unless were talking LBJ, 4 is 2 too many.

  14. Jafa

    And I left out Favors. So that’s like 5 1st Round Picks. 5 picks ladies and gentlemen. You’d have to draft 5 guys, and maybe you get 1 all star, 2 rotation players, 1 fringe player and 1 bust in that lot if your a good GM. That’s what Melo is worth, according to Denver.

  15. ess-dog

    Jafa:
    This is like Dejavu.Didn’t they reach an agreement months ago and were waiting for Melo to sign off on it, and when he didn’t, they got mad and walked away from the table?Now they have reached another agreement and are again waiting for Melo to sign off.Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?I’m so glad I’m not a Nets fan.If these reports are true (big “IF”), then Billy King must be the dumbest GM out there and that Russian billionaire must be as bad an owner as Jim Dolan.  

    Look a their signings this summer. Travis Outlaw? Jordan Farmar? I’m not sure what they’re doin’ over there.

  16. Brian Cronin

    Four picks is a bit misleading when you work in that at least two of them were acquired from other teams, and at little cost (Terence Williams got them two picks, for crying out loud!).

    So we’re not talking great picks here, outside of their own first rounder, which will be a lottery pick.

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