Pretty lousy game. I feel for you fans who invest so much of yourselves to have to watch your team struggle like this.
- Larry Drew kept the team in the locker room for a lot longer than normal. He came out to talk to reporters about 20 minutes after the game ended, which I’d guess is about seven or eight minutes longer than usual. The only thing Drew said he’d said to players is that every team is physically and mentally tired and that they have to grind it out.
“It’s not a situation of coming out and hoping that the other team is not on,” he said. “You’ve got to come out and you have to establish yourself and we have not done that.”
Other Drew quotes: “Right now, we’re in disarray. We’re not playing with the type of confidence and the type of swagger we should be playing with at home. And that’s a very disturbing thing.”
“The disappointing thing is that we didn’t play with that toughness that needs to be played at this particular time of the season.”
- The thing is, I actually thought they played pretty well defensively for the first three quarters. New York was on pace for 82-83 points through three quarters, more than 20 points below their season average. The Hawks were challenging shots, not getting beaten that often in transition and keeping the Knicks off the free-throw line.
(Two grains of salt: Carmelo Anthony was way off his game – more below – and the Knicks also didn’t have Chauncey Billups.)
The fourth, of course, was a different story. The Knicks loosened up offensively and started making everything. They made 10 of 15 shots, four of six from 3-point range and went to the free-throw line eight times after seven trips through three quarters.
Al Horford: “They moved the ball well, making big shots. I think we became real stagnant on offense. I think it carried over to the defensive end.”
Asked about what he meant by “stagnant,” he quickly replied, “No movement. No movement and a lot of isolation.”
An interesting moment in the fourth. Jamal Crawford was dribbling on the left wing with Kirk Hinrich towards the corner. Crawford kept dribbling and Hinrich threw his hands up. Ironically, that turned into a 3-pointer for Hinrich after Crawford threw into Horford, who passed back out to Hinrich.
- Horford had one shot in the fourth, although I wouldn’t put it on all on a lack of ball movement. He seemed hesitant throughout the game and missed pick-and-pop shots he normally makes.
Horford: “I just couldn’t get it going on offense.”
Drew said he didn’t have the energy he had against Chicago (which, in fairness, was statistically perhaps the best game of his career).
Drew: “I thought he did a good job of getting into the post, but I thought he was quick in his shot instead of getting into a nice rhythm and getting his shot off.”
- Offensively, it was a wreck. Mike D’Antoni has coached the Knicks for 224 games and this was the second first time his team held its opponent under 80 points.
Distance of first-quarter makes, in feet: 2, 3, 3, 5, 12, 25, 26.
Distance of misses: 7, 9, 15, 19, 20, 20, 22, 22, 22, 24, 25.
Joe Johnson was off, Horford was off. Plus, 21 total turnovers, which New York turned into 24 points. Not much flow.
You would never guess this, but the Hawks actually were 10-for-17 in the fourth quarter.
- Drew mentioned that he is going to keep searching for players who will bring toughness of the bench, which I imagine is partly why he gave Hilton Armstrong a shot (and also because he matched up better with New York’s athletic bigs than Jason Collins would have). He put in Zaza Pachulia at the start of the second quarter and pulled him after 65 seconds. Pachulia was pretty steamed coming back to the bench.
- I thought Damien Wilkins played tough, physical defense and gave the team a boost again. Anthony got his points off of him, but Wilkins, if memory serves, also drew two charges on him.
- Anthony said following the game he had migraines and blurry vision after getting poked in the eye by Hoford in the first quarter, which is why he took his headband off (because the headband was so tight, he said). Anthony was 6 for 18 for 14 points, although he had seven rebounds and seven assists (with five turnovers).
I’d say, too, Marvin Williams played pretty energetic defense on him, though who knows how things would have turned out of Anthony weren’t waylaid with blurry vision.
- One thing about Josh Smith’s 3-point shooting. He’s been pretty off this month (7 for 32), but he’s shooting 33.6 percent for the season. That’s better than Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams, as well as Derrick Rose (barely), Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant.
It can certainly be argued if he best serves the team being out there, but I don’t think it can be argued he doesn’t make a decent amount of them. (He was 1-for-2 against New York.)
- About Hawks fans – I do find it peculiar in a market this size that there wouldn’t be more fans who would be willing to pay to see the team play, but it’s obviously the reality of the market. It happens with all four professional sports teams here. I can understand where diehard Hawks fans could be disenchanted but I’d think the average sports fan would want to see a team that has a winning record and exciting players. I’m not blaming them – people are free to spend their money how they want – but it does surprise me a little the team doesn’t draw better.
This isn’t a groundbreaking observation, but I think part of it is the long record of futility and the effect that’s had on where each team is on the radar. Atlanta is a transient city, but I think that only goes so far. If a championship-caliber team played in this city, I have to believe it would win over a lot of those transient fans. It happened with the Braves in the 90’s, and I think it’s happening with the Falcons.
Smith on his knee: “It felt good. I think I thought about it too much, but it’s going to be happen like that until I get the rust off.”
Drew: “We’re not playing with that sense of urgency. We’re not playing with this swag that we talk about coming back home and being on our homecourt and playing energized and with a sense of urgency. The minute we get out there, that’s not happening.”
Smith, on Drew’s comments about the Hawks lacking swagger: “Those are his words. You ask me, it’s just a lack of consistency.”
Horford: “It was just a lot of isolation. On the break, we had to try to get layups. I think we were forcing shots.”
Horford: “I think it’s a rough patch. We’ve had those before this season. It goes back to us playing with a consistency that I’ve felt we’ve lacked this year. We’ve got to get back on track.”
On fans cheering for the Knicks: “It is frustrating. But we can’t get caught up in that. We have to keep coming out and playing and playing for our fans.”
Amar’e Stoudemire, on the “MVP!” chants: “I thought we were at home for a second. It felt like a home game.”
Stoudemire: “We can become a great tea. It’s just a matter of us being willing to bring the effort every night.”