Knicks 111, Hawks 106: Snowangels for all

Atlanta Hawks 106 Final
Recap | Box Score
111 New York Knicks
Andrea Bargnani, PF 36 MIN | 11-16 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +18

Here’s an observation based on nothing but vague, somewhat-informed guesswork: Andrea Bargnani shoots much better when his team’s ahead. In the two games prior, Bargs was aiming his shot – you knew the second it left his mitt that a miss was nigh. Last night, the mechanics were taut; the confidence buoyed by a team finally finding something in the way of an offensive groove. Also: six boards! Two steals! A complete, mostly well-rounded game peppered by but a few woeful perimeter closeouts and interior rotations. Belgioioso!

Carmelo Anthony, SF 38 MIN | 13-22 FG | 6-6 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 35 PTS | +19

Minus the slight dearth of rebounds, this was Melo’s Platonic ideal of a game: A mix of bruising bullrushes to the basket, smooth perimeter destruction, and hypnotizing mid-range efficiency. When he pulled up lame on a late-second quarter drive with what looked like a gimpy hammy, our collective breathe was halted. But no locker room was needed. Instead, it seemed to realign some kind of deep inner chi, and the results were equally breathtaking – in the best way possible.

Pablo Prigioni, PG 31 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 6 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +17

Pablo Prigioni is the guy you hand your keys to after you and your four friends spend the night doing body shots off Jager promo models: You know no matter how messed up your team us, you know you’re at least getting home with your head attached.

Seldom is a player been more steadily spectacular without stuffing the stat sheet. Prigs took what the defense gave him, managed the offense with a tactician’s moxie, and single-handedly forced about a dozen Hawk turnovers – some off of canny deflections, others on outright thefts. But his greatest assist may have come in garbage time, when Prigs could be seen consoling a dejected J.R. Smith.

“Friend, you must remove head and uplift it! You are struggling, but we still are sisters in this war. May today’s dead cow bring you strong beef at a later date.”

J.R. Smith, SG 24 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -5


That’s blood, by the way.

Iman Shumpert, SG 33 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | +25

Exhibit 1A of a player whose confidence has cratered beyond recognition: hoisting two shots in 33 minutes (although the first – a confident take for a deft lefty finish – had me positively giddy). Gone is the uber confident gait and poised stroke that blossomed last spring and carried into this season’s first few games; replaced by a sad shell of a Shump, all nerves and negativity. Was victimized often by Atlanta’s particle accelerator ball movement, although he finished with a team high +25. Growing pains, or a sign of something more sinister?

Amar’e Stoudemire, PF 19 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | -8

When I wrote this piece for Bleacher Report a few weeks back, the impetus was simple: Write something that I didn’t necessarily agree with, but would successfully get everyone’s panties in a twist. It worked, and I looked like a fool for the next four or five games.

But no more. That STAT’s knees are grinding on borrowed time has become sad, sentimental gospel. But damn if he’s going to flicker out without one final, prolonged conflagration. The clumsy ineptitude that defined the season’s first 10 games is gone. In its stead, a guy who looked like he spent two summers training with, like, Hakeem Olajuwon or something. Two-dimensional though the moves may be, the precision and power with which STAT has been executing them is perhaps the single biggest factor in New York regaining some semblance of mojo.

Metta World Peace, SF 9 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -12

More spot duty, more spotty play. It’s impossible to say whether the minimal minutes levied on World Peace in recent weeks is a sign of a rotational relevance to come. Or whether Woodson has designs on saving him for the season’ stretch. Whatever the strategy, let’s hope the resulting play yields a little more dynamism than this.

Beno Udrih, PG 18 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -14

Competent follow-up to Friday night’s basketball apocalypse – his -14 be damned. You have to wonder how many more blasé spins Beno’s due before Toure leapfrogs him in the rotation. Then again, given Woodson’s almost religious deference to veteran’s…. no.

Beno doesn’t get a snowman because I ran out of snow.

Tim Hardaway Jr., SG 27 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +5

His first shot was a lefty baby hook in the lane that might’ve been a D-League offense had I been coaching. But he quickly found his groove: Hitting some in-rhythm jumpers, getting out in transition – poetry in motion, to be sure – and further entrusting himself to both his teammates and Woodson himself, who has a hell of a minute-distribution conundrum on his hands.

Mike Woodson

Decided to try the two-point guard thing in the second quarter, watched team go on 7-2 run, never played the lineup again. Still, strapping Earl’s hide to the pine may have been the smartest thing Woody’s done all season. A gamble, perhaps, given JR’s loose cannon pedigree. But one that absolutely needed to be risked.

Three Things We Saw

  1. On paper, Atlanta’s unique combination of positional construction and basketball philosophy makes for a Knick nightmare: With such a formidable frontcourt duo in Millsap and Horford, the Hawks can, in theory, force New York into terrible switches, attendant mismatches, and resulting open looks off of ball movement pretty much every time down the floor. Fortunately, the Hawks didn’t figure this out until the second half. The results were predictably nauseating: open looks on open looks on open looks, with the Knicks showing little to no interest in adjusting their lineup – or their strategy – to compensate. Anyway it was too little, too late for the Hawks, who in the end simply couldn’t keep up with the Knicks’ torrid shooting.
  2. Related: The Hawks turned the ball over 27 times. Many of these came by way of unforced errors, but give some credit to the Knick guards – and Prigs in particular – who often managed to recover and rotate quick enough to poke and pry the ball away right into a teammate’s waiting hands. It was by no means a harbinger of good defensive principles, but sometimes opportunism is its own reward.
  3. BlueCheese99 – Posting & Toasting’s resident peddler of Knicks-related statistical esoterica – pointed out something spectacular: The Hawks are the first team in NBA history to shoot over 70% from two-point range in a game and lose. Despite shooting 61% on the night, a combination of reckless ball control and equally incendiary Knick shooting at the other end made for a game equal parts revoltingly thrilling December basketball game. What a weird win.
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Jim Cavan

Beyond his KnickerBlogger roots, Jim's work has appeared at, Grantland, The Classical, and the New York Times. He is currently working on a biography of Robert Silverman, entitled "Clownin' and Astoundin.'" Follow him on Twitter @JPCavan.

20 thoughts to “Knicks 111, Hawks 106: Snowangels for all”

  1. Bargnani’s shot seemed very flat (arc-wise) in his recent shooting slump, and it looked like he put more arc on the ball yesterday.

  2. Agree on the arc and purer form Z-man. Perhaps the arc is a symbolic positive for the team in general. Hope so. Also, Jim I really liked the recap, not just because our boys won and played really well. We got about 14″ of beautiful powder up here where I live. My Newfie dog was creating large awkward snow angels this early morning and when I saw your piece it cracked me up. Keep up the good work Jim.

  3. BlueCheese999’s nightly stats are a thing to behold and should be cross-posted here every postgame.

  4. Pau and a top-10 protected 1st in 2014 for Bargs, Felton and JR. Who hangs up first?

    Am I crazy thinking the Lakers are desperate enough to get Pau out of town? D’antoni gets some guys you know he’d like and the Lakers overall get a little more depth.

    If I’m Mills, I don’t even give Dolan time to look into it before I agree. Getting out from under the extra years of Bargs and Ray-Ray and getting into the draft, even later in the round, is worth so much more. But to the Lake Show, it’s just worth getting rid of the Gasol headache.

    EDIT: Hmm, JR can’t be traded until next month. Assuming a deal would have to happen sooner rather than later he can be subbed for Metta or any other bench filler. The salaries actually work with just Ray/Bargs, but I included JR because he might still have some value to someone like the Lakers.

  5. If it’s unprotected, all the better. I was trying to stay reasonable, but hey, no one ever said current Lakers management is governed by reason.

    Also isn’t this just the kind of flashy big name move Dolan loves making? The happy accident is that, probably unbeknownst to him, it would help this team long-term.

  6. i would love to see healthy amare and revitalized shump with d’antoni in los angeles and if nash played even one decent game with stat over there i’d be pretty stoked, the lakers is my back-up team to watch and have made our horrible slump a little more bearable…otherwise i don’t think pau is gonna be worth anything for this squad his attitude/athleticism seems to be on a downturn for the most part not sure NY is revitalizing anyone’s game this year of course him and melo could do stuff but so could melo/bargs melo/stat melo/chandler we don’t run shit for them so wtf am i gonna get excited for another duo that works together like 4 times a season. also what the hell we gonna do with picks look how we develop our talent now, retain our talent, value our talent, utilize our talent..surprised everyone is so into getting picks knowing full well the knicks will let anyone go for nothing eventually. they fucking rush to let talent go for nothing, it’s not even a joke this team sets it’s players up for failure over petty shit all the time.

  7. Lakers are barred from trading first round pick in 2014, 2016 or 2018 because they traded away their 2015 (to Phoenix for Nash) and 2017 (to Orlando as part of the Dwight Howard trade).

  8. Lakers are barred from trading first round pick in 2014, 2016 or 2018 because they traded away their 2015 (to Phoenix for Nash) and 2017 (to Orlando as part of the Dwight Howard trade).

    This sentence just made me feel a lot better about the picks we gave away for Melo and Bargs

  9. Here’s a question — why does “The Lakers have asked about a guy on another team but haven’t even made any trade proposals for him, and they are also considering making a proposal for another guy on that same team, and the proposal that they have talked about internally works financially” constitute news? Here’s my scoop that I just made up but is probably every bit as true as Broussard’s scoop — “The Knicks have called about 15 teams asking about available point guards and are considering making a few different trade proposals.” And here’s the really big scoop — “The trade proposals that they have talked about internally actually work financially because, if they didn’t work financially, the Knicks wouldn’t bother making them because the league wouldn’t allow the trade.” One more question — At this point in his career, Gasol is a kind of soft 7 footer who isn’t a good rebounder or defender and who likes to shoot mid-range jump shots. The Knicks really need someone to defend the lane and cover for his teammates’ defensive shortcomings, so why in the world would they consider trading a guy that they already have and really need for a guy who is an older, much more expensive, version of a guy they already have in Bargnani?

  10. “Friend, you must remove head and uplift it! You are struggling, but we still are sisters in this war. May today’s dead cow bring you strong beef at a later date.”

    Thank you! I needed that this morning!! I look forward to your writing, and the comments, after every game.

  11. IMHO Broussard has few if any scoops nowadays. That article was link baiting at its worst — take 2 of the most fervent and numerous fan bases and stir them up with a completely unsubstantiated trade rumor. For pete’s sake, he even said that there was nothing even remotely imminent. Just ridiculous.

  12. Tranquilizer dart? Cement shoes?

    I vote for the first one, I’m afraid cement shoes may not be enough.

  13. What’s the plan to stop John Wall tonight?

    1. Go under screens and make Wall hit jump shots.
    2. So that Wall does not get too comfortable, occasionally throw a hard trap on the PnR.
    3. Mix in some zone. Keep a man on Beal, but a box zone with the other four defenders.
    4. Run Wall into lots of picks.

  14. 1. Oh, they’ll have no trouble doing this.
    2. They might be incapable. Always ill-timed or they do it too much.
    3. This was nice to see in a recent game.
    4. Ugh, PGs not a real threat to shoot or finish at the rim, not much motivation for Wall to fight through screens. But doing it just to do it yeah I agree, but then again two best screen-setters are out.

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