After a horrible, disconcerting loss to the league-worst Chicago Bulls on the road the Knicks came home to just barely dispatch 2nd worst Atlanta. A less than overwhelming home win, as the game went all the way down to the wire and to a free throw shooting contest, but a more than necessary W, bringing the team back to .500 and just outside of the playoff picture. And, of course, a win confirming what we all already knew. This team, that is just absolute garbage on the road, does a pretty damn good job of protecting home court.
Central to the win were Knicks-Career games for both Jarrett Jack and Doug McDermott who racked up season high totals and kept a fairly stagnant offense afloat. KP also hit the 30 point mark for the first time in 10 games, although it was a strangely quiet performance as he missed a ton of jumpers outside of the paint. And, finally, Ron Baker had a killer game (for him) augmenting his usual scrappy defense with some actual shot-making and a couple nice dishes to Doug for corner threes. Hornacek actually spent a lot of the game pairing him next to Ntilikina on his backup unit and then, even more bizarrely, next to Jack AND Ntilikina to close out the game super small.
And they needed all of these contributions. No Timmy, a poor game from Courtney Lee, and Enes Kanter clearly hobbled after needing crutches post-Bulls the night before. The Knicks were able to beat up on Atlanta inside early in the game as they lack any kind of real size or athleticism with both John Collins and Dwayne Dedmon injured but as the game went on and Atlanta continued to punish the Knicks with their three point shooting (especially from Ersan “Ug-Mo” Ilyasova) it made more and more sense to downsize. Credit Hornacek for the lineup flexibility, as he was clearly working with half a deck, and all the strange adjustments paid out down the stretch.
Moving forward it’s hard to get too excited about this game. New York is in the middle of a really soft part of their schedule, with games against the Lakers and Nets next on the docket, but they’re set to embark on a few massive road trips in January. They need to stack home wins now for how bad they’ve been on the road but you’d like to see them beat one of the worst teams in the league more comfortably. A couple big performances, and a more-than-notable KP return to dominance could be a turning point for a team that has underwhelmed over the last few games, but I’ll wait to believe it until I can see them put together a couple in a row.
A few random notes about the contest:
Frank started to look for his own shot a little more in the 2nd half, which was excellent to see. Finished with a poor shooting night but hit an awesome pull-up 3 right in Dennis Schroder’s face.
Kyle O’Quinn had a terrible flagrant foul on a ball that Atlanta had knocked out of bounds, but continues to have a crazy mind-meld with Doug McDermott. I feel like he hits the underrated cutter McDermott for a backdoor layup every single game, and dimed him up a couple of times in this one.
Michael Beasley was somehow able to foul out in 10 minutes of playing time. Beas gonna Beas.
On to the Lake Show!