Even though the Knicks are down some of their major players (Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton and Kenyon Martin), the team played with great effort on Saturday and made the necessary plays to close out the Hawks.
We don't know the severity of Kenyon Martin's abdominal injury, but Chris Bosh sat out nearly 3 weeks in the '12 playoffs with an ab strain.— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) December 15, 2013
The Knicks played much better defense on this night and limited the Hawks to many one-and–dones while also getting out on the break for easy baskets.
Here then, are six initial observations from the game.
- The Knicks forced a season-high 27 turnovers while scoring 36 points off said turnovers. The Knicks played some aggressive defense and it paid off with plenty of turnovers. They made Atlanta pay for their mistakes and if the Knicks could make this a habit, it will make the team that more dangerous to contend with.
- Carmelo Anthony did everything right on this night and was the driving force in the Knicks win. He scored 15 of his game-high 35 points (13-22 from the field) in the fourth quarter by relentlessly attacking the basket and carrying the Knicks past the finish line. He played good defense, played with heart and was a calming influence in the victory. He also chipped in with six rebounds and four assists.
- Andrea Bargnani played another inspiring game. Bargnani scored 23 points on a very proficient 13-22 from the field while also hauling in six rebounds in 36 minutes. With Chandler and Martin out, Bargnani is going to have to step up his game and so far so good on that front.
- J.R. Smith is about as useless as it gets right now. This slump Smith finds himself in right now seemingly has no end in sight. Despite starting and playing 24 minutes, Smith only had two points on 1-8 shooting. Smith tried to get others involved, notching four assists. However, that didn’t stop the Garden faithful from giving some Bronx cheers. Smith needs to get it gear, and fast.
- Smith is not alone in the slump department, as Iman Shumpert once again struggled. Shumpert scored only three points, although he attempted just two shots. For the Knicks to win consistently, they need Shumpert to get out of this malaise.
- The bench provided a nice spark, scoring 37 (14-31 from the field) of the team’s 111 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. once again gave the team a lift, scoring 13 points on 5-10 shooting. Amar’e Stoudemire also was effective with nine points (4-8 from field) and five rebounds. All in all it was great team effort with many pitching in.
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