– Dramatic ending but it didn’t have to be that way. The Hawks lost by a point on a night when they really only played defense for parts of two quarters. Now they are 1-3 against the Knicks, a game behind Boston for No. 3 in the East and 3.5 games behind the Magic in the Southeast.
– Josh made a nice strip of Toney Douglas on New York’s final possession and Jamal corralled it. “I didn’t call a timeout because I thought we had numbers,” Woody said.
– Jamal did a good job pushing it into the lane and made a nice pass to Smoove. Wilson Chandler got up and blocked it at the rim. Al’s follow was too late. “Jamal made a great play,” Woody told reporters. “Smoove normally finishes that. He would normally would put that away. But Chandler made a great play.”
– It’s not always easy to explain with numbers (though in this case New York’s 50.6 percent shooting does it pretty well) but the Hawks just look like a much different team when they are getting after it on defense. “Our defense finally picked up late in the fourth quarter and got us back in the game,” Woody said.
– You could see the contrast during certain possessions. The Knicks opened the period with a Douglas layup when Jamal was inattentive on the weakside. Later Eddie House buried a jumper when Smoove was late to rotate and made a halfhearted attempt to challenge. Chandler made a 3 when Gallinari got into the lane and pitched out and Bibby was late to close.
– But during the comeback the Hawks showed how they can take over with defense when they decide to do it. Chandler missed a 3 under pressure leading to a Smoove fastbreak and two free throws. Jamal recovered to challenge Gallinari’s 3, leading to a Horford steal and J.J.’s free throw that got the Hawks within 97-96.
– A possession at the end of the first quarter might have been best of all for the Hawks. Mo hounded Gallinari, then switched to David Lee on a screen and denied the pass as Horford showed hard and forced Gallinari to give it to Chandler. J.J. harassed Chandler, Smoove helped out and Chandler shot an airball.
– Impressive to see the Hawks working hard and helping, but the problem is that kind of spirited effort only lasts for a few possessions at a time. What happened to the squad that digs in and wins with D even if nothing else is going right?
– And where is the focus? Bibby threw a pass to no one with the Hawks down 92-85. And it’s hard to find much fault with Josh considering the way he’s playing, but that long jumper with the Hawks down 97-96 and six seconds still on the shot clock was damaging. That came after he was dominating the Knicks on the block.
– Lee got his fifth foul early in the fourth. The Hawks never really went at him aggressively and instead jacked jumpers. “I thought our shots coming down the stretch were awful,” Woody said. “We could have gone inside. We were in the penalty early in the fourth quarter and didn’t take advantage of that.”
– The Knicks set an NBA record with 18 3-point attempts without a make while losing to the sorry Nets on Saturday. Then the Hawks show up, open 3s are plentiful and the Knicks make 10 of 15.
– Somehow, the Hawks kept losing Gallinari at the 3-point line. The guy had made 141 3s in 61 games. “We talked about it before the game, the guy can shoot the basketball,” assistant coach Larry Drew told sideline reporter James Verrett during the game.
– Bibby was a non-factor with 1 point, 0-for-4 shooting, one assist and a turnover. Jamal was just 5 of 16 while missing lots of runners trying to draw fouls.
– That’s three Knicks victories in four games against the Hawks. “We’re not matched up well for some reason,” Woody said. “We played well enough to win tonight. But we were our own worst enemies coming down the stretch.”
– Joe Smith hasn’t played since suffering a bloody nose in the first half at Miami. The Hawks say he’s OK so apparently Woody’s just not using him after he was good against the Heat.
–Iso-Joe: missed stepback jumper (led to a Lee dunk) and a tough runner made over Al Harrington.
– I’m out, Hawks fans.