Game Recap: Knicks vs. Hawks

The Knicks didn’t win their 17th game of the season last year until the 81st game. They didn’t get the 18th win last year until……

Tonight was three quarters of transcendent “Stage 4” basketball, and one quarter of perplexing “Stage 3,” stagnant, Melo hero ball. I was sitting blissfully on my couch most of the game, murmuring, “Nice basketball. Beautiful passing. This is gorgeous.” During the fourth quarter I was flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water, banging myself in the head, BEGGING the Knicks to get back to what worked so well. Clyde was right there with me on the telecast, albeit with his typical cool instead of my deranged flailing. That’s why he’s Clyde.

I’m not sure WHY the Knicks stopped doing all the exciting things that had Knicksdom cooing and gurgling like a breast fed baby. They did win the game in the end, which is the most important thing. They were grinding in the 4th quarter like iron tools on a sharpening stone and held on. Have I used enough analogies to describe the game?

The team is now 9-2 when Afflalo scores 15 points. Whatever that means…it’s good. Porzingis was excellent again, although the trend continues that he drifts in the late 2nd half. They have to keep that ball moving and make sure he stays in the flow. He had a key rebound on the offensive end during the 4th, and got his first technical after facing off with Bazemore. When I looked at the replay, I thought he was just staring down at the little guy ’cause he’s tall. Bazemore got a stare down vibe instead of a “tall guy struggle to see down that low” vibe and it got a little chippy. It was a chippy game. In England they call it crispy.

How many open three pointers did the Knicks allow the Hawks? The oddest thing to me is that Korver (who Clyde lovingly calls ‘Karver’) missed almost all of them while the other Hawk dudes buried tons. 2000 pounds+ of open threes given up by the Knicks. Gotta fix that.

Anyway…..WE WON!!!! Enjoy Knickerbuddies. See you tomorrow.

Liked it? Take a second to support mikeplugh on Patreon!

63 thoughts to “Game Recap: Knicks vs. Hawks”

  1. Mike P., do you have the stats on Abstract Expressiveness Per Contested Shot Attempt for this game? Would like to see it posted.

  2. Kristap Porzingis appears to be well integrated into the fabric of this team. He did not back down from anyone, and Carmelo Anthony had his back. That cohesion (as compared to the Linsanity factions) makes me hopeful for the continued growth of KP.

    When Porzingis caught the ball at the top the key, put the ball on the floor to the left, put up a contested left handed bank shot, got fouled, made the shot and the made the free throw, I was done for the night. Win or lose, this was going to be a night to celebrate. The victory only makes it sweeter.

    This is a good time to be a Knick fan.

  3. And you know what, fuck the Hawks for trying to play Tim Hardaway Jr against us like he was gonna get revenge. 3 points on three shots to go along with 1 rebound and one assist. Thanks for getting us Porzingis, you bum. And your Dad sucks too.

  4. Great win. Kristaps is getting better and better, he is very skilled at basketball. I believe he will continue to improve and get used to the demands and style of play in the NBA this year. Next year, when he’s a little more comfortable, I think he will blow up and become one of the most unique and better players in the league. Fisher needs to figure out the best ways to maximize his talents and how he can best mesh with Anthony’s play.

  5. Thanks for getting us Porzingis, you bum. And your Dad sucks too.

    The other upside for Knicks fans is that we can properly go back to slagging off at the Hardaway family now that they have no association with the franchise ha ha.

  6. Great win last night-

    So in the monster stretch of our schedule (11 games in a row against >.500 teams) we are now 4-5. That’s about as good as any of us could have hoped. Winning a home and home against Atlanta (who had been 7-1 in the 8 game stretch prior to this) is no joke. If we can scratch out a win against Miami tonight… man, even assuming a loss to SA, 5-6 for this team would be a victory on this stretch.

    Underrated play from last night in the first quarter that gives me a little hope for this coaching staff — I think it was off an ATL offensive rebound — ball is kicked out to the left side of the floor above the break beyond the 3 p point line to Sefalosha with I think Bazemore uncovered in the corner. The only Knick able to cover those 2 was Afflalo. And even though Sefalosha had the ball, Afflalo ran directly to Bazemore in the corner to make sure that he was not going to give up an uncontested corner 3 to a good 3 point shooter. Sefalosha, who is not a good shooter, ends up taking the wide open above the break 3 and bricks it.

    That’s the kind of recognition we haven’t seen in years from Knicks teams.
    Yes we gave up a billion 3PA (and 3PM) last night (Melo and DWill especially fell asleep on their guys), but it seems like the coaching staff is doing some of the non-obvious things you hope they would.

    Loved KP standing up for himself last night. And Melo having his back.

    We did devolve into some iso-Melo in the 4th, but honestly – Melo is playing out of his mind right now. The shooting hasn’t been great, but man is he a good passer when he wants to be.

    Last thought for now — Millsap’s #s ended up looking semi-ok, but KP really dominated him this game. Our 20 year old rookie dominated an All-Star max-contract 10 year veteran.

    As ephus says – it’s a good time to be a Knicks fan.

  7. If Carmelo continues to play the way he’s been playing tha last two games I will have to rethink my position on him….he was a warrior out there. Smart, hustling team leader.
    Just watched the game here at work wearing the serious working mask hiding the silently cooing breast-fed fanboys face away(sorry Mike).What a revelation of a team. I am in love again.

  8. Not only did we win, but a lot of us got what we wanted from Fisher: A shortened lineup without Serephin, Sasha and even Oaq. The staggering of the substitutions, allowing key bench guys like DWill and Galloway to play more with the starters. This is huge because it allows those 2 in particular a chance to take advantage of being a secondary option to Melo, KP and Afflalo. The only thing that is bad with this is it extends Melo’s minutes, and shortens his stints on the bench.
    ALSO he has them running a lot more PnR up top, which is definitely making the offense look a lot better. Fisher for most improved Coach award, if there was such a thing :)

  9. The Knicks are running more PNR because they’re understanding how to get to those options and are cycling through multiple sets with urgency, pace and purpose. If people think they’ve been scrapping the Triangle to run more PNR that’s just flat out wrong. They’re running more PNR because they actually know what the fuck they’re doing now and are going through their actions with real vigor instead of robotically running it.

  10. So in the monster stretch of our schedule (11 games in a row against >.500 teams) we are now 4-5. That’s about as good as any of us could have hoped. Winning a home and home against Atlanta (who had been 7-1 in the 8 game stretch prior to this) is no joke. If we can scratch out a win against Miami tonight… man, even assuming a loss to SA, 5-6 for this team would be a victory on this stretch.

    @14 – I agree 100%. Miami and especially San Antonio are very tough opponents.

    We always seem to focus on making the 8-seed when what we REALLY should be focused on is winning the Atlantic. 4 games out of that and have a bunch of games left with Boston and Toronto.

  11. We always seem to focus on making the 8-seed when what we REALLY should be focused on is winning the Atlantic.

    No

  12. Yeah – I would be absolutely stoked if we snuck into the playoffs, especially since we don’t have our pick. Going for the Atlantic seems a little unrealistic, but I guess you never know. Fisher has given a ton of minutes this year to bad players, who not only hurt the team because they suck, but they also keep better players of the floor. This 9 man rotation feels right, with Lopez and KP playing about 30 minutes each. Maybe I’d like O’Quinn to see some spot minutes just so we don’t wear our RoLo and KP, and maybe try to keep Melo to 34 minutes/game rather 38. But the staggering of KP and Afflalo with the 2nd unit feels good, and I think has really stabilized that 2nd unit. The 2nd unit was just killing us.

  13. I like that at least one of KP and Lopez are always on the floor.

    Rolo’s numbers has not being good but at least he’s still a good defensive player that we can trust on regular basis.

  14. @lavor They seem to be picking and choosing which Triangle sets produce good opportunities for the personnel. They are getting comfortable with certain types of “triangling” and have shelved others that haven’t been as comfortable. They communicate A LOT better in those sets now, which is the point. You have dozens of options from positions on the floor, but you have to be on the same page to execute them in improvisation. I was impressed to see them pointing and directing one another last night. Melo was especially good at reminding post guys to change sides of the floor to keep the balance, and I think the play that he whips the ball to Afflalo for the corner three is a repeat Triangle series.

  15. This new version of Melo is much more likable. If he can start hitting 3s at a better clip and raise his TS% into the 56% area, he’s going to be very likeable.

  16. why?

    That was a tongue semi-in cheek response, but the short answer is that we’re not good enough to win the Atlantic. Toronto and Boston are both probably better than us and better than whoever is going to be battling for the 8th spot. I’m not sure what the practical difference is between trying to win the Atlantic and trying to get the 8th spot, but the latter should be more attainable.

  17. Somewhat lost in the shuffle is how well Derrick Williams is playing in limited minutes. In contrast to the expectations many here had, he’s been a very important contributor to many of our wins. Two things are clear…1) he’s no Bargnani and 2) he’s worth $5 million per.

    I’m still not bent out of shape about his player option for next year. If that was the price of getting this level of production for this year, it was well worth it. I think there’s a good chance that he takes the $5 mill. If he doesn’t, it’s not like he’s irreplaceable.

  18. I completely agree Z-man. If you have moderate expectations, and you limit his role to things he does well…he’s a steal at that price.

  19. D-Will’s free throw rate this year (.552) is in about the middle 50% of Harden’s career free throw rate.

    That’s really good. Coupled with defense that’s not abjectly horrible (though it’s still pretty bad) and I think he’s a slight net positive. That’s good enough. Just wish he could improve his three point shooting–if he shot it at an even league average rate we’d have a real player on our hands.

  20. Yeah, the Williams player option doesn’t seem nearly as egregious now. If he opts in, he’s worth that salary. If he doesn’t, we’re that much closer to be able to sign a free agent to a max deal (assuming anyone wants to come here who’s worth that). Now, Lance is going to deserve a big raise, and Galloway likely as well, so a max may not be feasible no matter what. But we’ll have options this summer, no matter what.

  21. I still can’t envision him opting in. He can easily opt out and top 1 year, 5mm. He got more than that last year at his lowest value in a tightly capped league. Even if he wanted to stay, he’d opt out and ask for 3 years, 30mm or something like that.

    The player option exists entirely as insurance in case a player blows out his knee or something while playing on a one year contract.

    But sure, D-Will on one year, 5 mil will turn out to be good value. Now, because of the opt out, it will be on Phil to find that value again with a different player.

  22. As I wrote on the game thread, two of the best things from last night were (a) KP standing up against Bazemore and (b) Carmelo leading the charge and having KP’s back. This team is so much more united than the Linsanity-crew or even the Melo-Stat-Chandler team that won 54 games.

    And, as I wrote in the season preview, I expect this team to end the season with 38 wins (21 more than last year) and the 8th playoff spot. A 38-win team may fall short of the 8 seed, but it would be a great improvement from last year.

    This is a good time to be a Knick fan.

  23. I wonder whether Phil and co. have talked about maybe sending Jerian Grant to the D-League. he really needs more minutes.

    other than obviously the development of KP, I think Grant is the linchpin to our future. Our front court is pretty much set for the next 3.5 years — Lopez, KP, Melo, O’Quinn are all signed for that period of time. The backcourt is really the question. I don’t think Jose is going anywhere, but ideally he would be the backup PG not the starter. So next year the questions in the backcourt will be whether Afflalo is back (he’ll definitely opt out just like DWill) and whether Jerian is ready to be a 25 min/game guy rather than a 10 min/game guy. If he’s ready to play 50% of the minutes and then take over the lion’s share after Jose’s contract is up, we can put all our FA resources to filling the swing position (starting 2/backup 3 to Melo). If he’s not…. then we’re going to have to split those resources between both backcourt positions, which is not as desirable.

    Batum would be absolutely perfect (plays 50/50 at 2 and 3 now, good shooter, great passer, great defender, will be 27-28 years old to start a 4 year contract) but will probably require near a max contract. Otherwise, we’d end up with… Evan Turner. Bleh.

  24. @Frank I think Jerian could use a little D-League run, personally. It could happen…but not sure what they think is best for him.

    I’ve been a BIG Batum guy for a while. I think he’s absolutely perfect for what the Knicks would like to do, but the price is going to be MAX…..which is a tough situation.

  25. We can’t give Jerian some d-league run until we find someone to replace him, because otherwise it’s fucking Sasha time.

  26. I’ve been a BIG Batum guy for a while. I think he’s absolutely perfect for what the Knicks would like to do, but the price is going to be MAX…..which is a tough situation.

    Well – we have about $56MM in guaranteed contracts for 6 guys, assuming both AA and Dwill opt out:
    Carmelo 24.6
    Lopez 13.2
    Calderon 7.7
    KP 4.3
    KOQ 3.9
    Grant 2.1

    I assume we will want to use Galloway’s cap hold which is only 1.2.
    My guess is that Cleanthony will not be back.

    So for 7 players we will have about $57MM guaranteed.
    Cap is thought to be about $89MM so my assumption is we will have enough to max out Batum if necessary… although that max will be 30% of the cap for his 7+ years of service = … ~$27MM/year. Ouch.

    So if we did that, we’d have ~$5MM left + room exception + minimums.

  27. We can’t give Jerian some d-league run until we find someone to replace him, because otherwise it’s fucking Sasha time.

    Exactly. If we sign Jimmer or someone else and are willing to play them a little (though the backcourt rotation would be mainly Jose/AA/Gallo), sure. But anything that puts Sasha on the court is worse than the gain we get from giving Jerian run in Westchester.

  28. (for those too lazy to click — we are best in the league defending the rim, tied with GS, with a FG% allowed of 47.1 when the shot and defender is within 5 feet of the rim)

    @16 Frank, this is a great stat, and one that I think speaks volumes about KP playing the 4 instead of the 5. When he is on the court with a true center, the Knicks have twin towers in the paint on D and every shot down low is at least altered. We do give up some ability to guard the arc with the KP/Lopez combo, but I’ll trade that in favor of protecting the rim.

  29. As I wrote on the game thread, two of the best things from last night were (a) KP standing up against Bazemore and (b) Carmelo leading the charge and having KP’s back.

    2 other best things were a) no Sasha and b) no Seraphin

  30. (for those too lazy to click — we are best in the league defending the rim, tied with GS, with a FG% allowed of 47.1 when the shot and defender is within 5 feet of the rim)

    Not exactly. We’re tied for best at opposing FG% at the rim. This is definitely good, and a big improvement (I think we were 11th or 12th last year). I’m not sure what would happen if you include fouls (which could be good or bad), and we are middle of the pack in terms of FGA conceded at the rim. We’re definitely good at defending the rim, which is a credit to Rolo and Porzingis, but I’m not sure we’re best in the league either.

  31. 2 other best things were a) no Sasha and b) no Seraphin

    Such a simple and effective way to improve the team!

  32. “Coupled with defense that’s not abjectly horrible (though it’s still pretty bad)”
    So, I clicked on the link that Frank posted above and went to the section of the link where they rank individual players. Guess who is one of the league leaders in FG% against at the rim (and the best on the Knicks) — Derrick Williams at something like 40%.
    “We’re tied for best at opposing FG% at the rim.”
    The Knicks are surprisingly among the league leaders in FG% against, blocks, 3 point % against, eFG% against, points per possession against, and fewest 3 pointers made per game against. They’re middle of the pack in defensive efficiency — which seems weird since they rank so highly in so many other defensive categories. This could be due to the fact that they are near the bottom of the league in turnovers caused and, while not as brutal as last year, they are still in the bottom quarter of the league in “hacking and whacking” — a/k/a fouls per game.

  33. Yeah, last week I went pouring through those numbers at the rim. The problem is at the other end we’re doing a terrible job of converting our rim shots and our usage % is one of the lowest on those types of shots in the league. If we could convert more and bring the usage up a bit we’d really be making some headway to improving the offense.

  34. Looking at the list of upcoming free agents, it seems like it’ll be difficult to markedly improve the team via free agency without signing a max deal. Obviously we shouldn’t be completely adverse to doing that, especially in the case(s) of KD or Whiteside, but we would be more or less locked into the framework of that team. Maybe internal improvement and savvy drafting could carry us to contention from that point on, but if we miss on KD, Whiteside, and maybe Batum it might be better to sit out this free agency period and wait for a more diversified one.

  35. I don’t think Batum will get the max but I do think he will get Millsap/Bosh/Love type money.
    Maybe instead of starting at $19m he’ll start at 20.5m-22m which is still crazy high. Also, I believe they would only have a little over $3m left.

    $57m + empty roster penalty(570k?) = $59.85m

    I might be wrong on the empty roster number,

  36. Melo’s passing the last few games reminds me of “facilitator Kobe,” who would periodically show up for a week or two and then vanish. It was never obvious to me why facilitator Kobe would appear at certain times, and I’m not sure why Melo is all of a sudden slinging passes all over the court now. There’s been a lot written about how he’s finally trusting his teammates, so is that it? Or does Fisher get some credit for it? The triangle?

  37. It was a big surprise to me that Carmelo was passing the ball after he already beat his defender. His head is up(at least at times) and not in the usual bull pose heading to the “paint pack” waiting for him.
    He seems to have the ability to see options in a nano second….1.charge to the paint(defenders)or pass A or pass B. Tht seemed to be the case at least on five passes in last two games. That was new to me about him.
    Is that here to stay?…let’s wait and see. I certanly hope so.

  38. I feel like we’ve seen this enough out of Melo when he has decent teammates that we shouldn’t be as shocked as if it were Kobe suddenly facilitating.

    Having said that, I have yet to see him facilitate much in late-game, close situations. That would be something new.

  39. Having said that, I have yet to see him facilitate much in late-game, close situations. That would be something new.

    I agree here. He does occasionally hit the open man….I remember that Ray Felton 3 against the Suns a few years ago. However, usually he gets super competitive and takes it all on his shoulders. Hopefully he can keep evolving.

  40. Carmelo is and was a very good PNR passer…but drive’n kick not so much.
    But agree on late-game.

  41. I think the only live non max options for the backcourt/wing positions this upcoming offseason are like Mario Chalmers and Bazemore

  42. Actually I would be super happy with Bazemore, but my feeling is that he will be very expensive also. Trouble with Bazemore is that he’s much more 2-guard sized than Batum, who really can do both. And meanwhile he tried to intimidate KP last night so no way he’s coming! (very hard to intimidate someone who is a foot taller than you)

  43. Actually I would be super happy with Bazemore, but my feeling is that he will be very expensive also. Trouble with Bazemore is that he’s much more 2-guard sized than Batum, who really can do both. And meanwhile he tried to intimidate KP last night so no way he’s coming! (very hard to intimidate someone who is a foot taller than you)

    Looking the success of Demarre Carroll in ATL, and how mediocre he has looked in Toronto, i would be wary of ATL wings. Bazemore was not very good in LA.

  44. “Looking the success of Demarre Carroll in ATL, and how mediocre he has looked in Toronto, i would be wary of ATL wings”

    Carroll numbers are very close to his ATL days. The difference is a huge drop in eFG%(.579/.471).

    Probably because he almost doubled his midrange shot attempts.

    I’m not sure if this is the Hawks or Raptors system but my guess is that they are not using him properly.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/carrode01.html

  45. Batum’s max offer from the Knicks is projected to be $108.23 over 4 years, starting at $25.3 million.

    That seems like a lot, but keep in mind that teams are going to spend over a billion dollars on free agents this summer.

    Charlotte isn’t really a player for the Durants and LeBrons on the market, and have some nicely developing talent. They can offer Batum a $147 million contract to stay.

    Batum says he’s happy in Charlotte and likes the front offices’ vision. That might just be lip service, but the Hornets will have about $40,000,000 in wiggle room to convince Batum not to leave.

  46. Ok so going back to the remaining schedule mentioned in the last thread. The Knicks have played most of the games against the elite teams already with the Heat and final game against the Spurs on Friday.

    OKC-1
    GSW – 2
    Spurs – 1 (Friday)
    Cavs – 1
    Chicago- 2
    Toronto -3
    Clippers -2
    Heat-2

    So that’s 14 out of the remaining 46 games that the Knicks would be expected to lose. If we give them losses in 10 of the 14 that gives the Knicks 29 losses and 21 wins.

    They essentially have 32 games to prove that they are a playoff team including 8 against the Lakers, Twovles, Nets and Sixers.

  47. Why would we ever want to max whiteside? He’s a headcase and has 14 assists in his CAREER….on/off numbers are suspicious too.

  48. FWIW, Melo had a higher assist % in ’11/12, and was pretty close in ’06 before Iverson/Billups’ arrival.

    Melo has always been very good at finding cutters, and just like this Knicks team, the ’06 Nuggets lacked penetration and playmaking. They supplemented it with a lot of Melo isolations.

    Guys like Reggie Evans, Nene, K-Mart, Eddy Najera and Camby (before exclusively shooting jumpers) were all very good cutters with Melo creating double-teams.

    That season, Melo averaged over 4 apg prior to the Iverson trade (with a 21.5 assist %)

    The triangle is a great offense for Melo. He sees cutters at a standstill and is a skilled passer. He’s always been a very good pnr passer, it’s matter of the volume he sees in that scenario. PNR is something built into the triangle.

    There’s no reason to suspect that this is merely a blip. This is just the second structured offense Melo has ever played in, and he had great assist numbers in the first one.

    Guys are getting very comfortable in the triangle, and I think Melo is embracing patience and passing as the focal identity of the offense. Barring a dominant playmaking guard, I don’t see why Melo’s game would change. He would have to break the offense in order to reach the 34-35 usage with 15 % assist.

Comments are closed.