Knicks Crush Hawks — Dec 17, 2019: NY 143 Atlanta 120

Coach Mike Miller continues to make the Knicks look better and better, running plays that highlight individual player strengths, and having the Knicks relentlessly push the ball to ‘run downhill’. At one point, Mitchell Robinson was making so many alley-oop slam dunks in a row he looked tired! And in an instantly-famous-on-twitter play, Miller called timeout with a 28-pt lead to go over a missed defensive assignment that resulted in an easy Atlanta layup.

Knick Guards Attacked Young

The Knicks were playing even with Atlanta through the 1st quarter, but then started to take off when Dennis Smith Jr came into the game. He lit up the court — looked like the Dennis Smith Jr that arrived from Dallas. Smith finished with only 8 pts in 13 minutes but also had 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and a +16 in those 13 minutes. He attacked the basket and took it to the smaller Trae Young; he also defended Young well. The Knicks strategy was to have their guards attack Young who is on the small side (listed at 6’1) and not known as a good defender — to score points and also get him in foul trouble. They did not get Young into foul trouble (he only had 1) but the Knick guards constantly attacking was a reason for the big lead.

RJ Barrett played like a ‘big dog’ — a career-high 27 pts on 10-13 shooting (2-3 from 3; 5-8 from the free throw line). Elfrid Payton came in and it was more of the same — quick attacks to the basket and terrific passes — Payton had 5 pts, 9 assists in 20 minutes. Frank Ntilikina had 3 pts (he hit a 3) in 18 minutes and a +10. He defended Young well, as usual.

Young had 29 points at the start of the 4th quarter (while Barrett had 22 at the time) — but then Young went off during garbage time to finish with 42. The Knicks maintained a 20+ lead for most of the 4th quarter.

Knox & Robinson Excelled

Kevin Knox jumped off the screen again on a number of slam dunks — he had 17 pts on 7-14 shooting (3-8 from 3).

Mitchell Robinson finished with a career-high 22 points, aided by all those alley oop slam dunks. At the start of his career, in the first summer camp, Knick teammates Knicknamed him “Skinny Shaq” because of his propensity for Alley Oop slam dunks and blocked shots. That Mitch is back, as Miller is running plays to free him up for the slam. Robinson was 9-13 shooting and 4-4 from the free throw line — he is becoming an excellent free throw shooter — with 13 rebounds, 2 blocks, and a +25 to go along with those 22 pts. A monster night for Robinson, all within the flow of the game.

Knicks’ Veteran Front Court Excelled

Julius Randle played exceptionally well — 17 points on 7-15 and 11 rebounds; he played in control and made a bunch of athletic spin moves to the basket. Marcus Morris 22 pts on 6-11 (3-5 from 3) was terrific as usual. Everyone played well — Bobby Portis had 11 pts (4-7) in 21 minutes and Taj Gibson played his usual tough defense and glue play — 2 pts in 19 minutes.

For Atlanta

Cam Reddish had 9 pts in 27 minutes, matched against Duke teammate Barrett. Barrett looked like the better player. De’Andre Hunter had 19, Jabari Parker 10 pts, and Kevin Huerter 14 pts.


It was Vince Carter‘s last game at Madison Square Garden. When he came into the game, the public address announced “Ladies and gentlemen, this is Vince Carter’s last game at Madison Square Garden” — half of MSG stood up and clapped — those who heard and/or understood the announcement. Carter raised his hand and and finger in thanks. The game continued. It was like a final game in the old days, before the Farewell Tours of former superstars became popular. At the end of the game, when he came out for the final time, he got similar applause.

The Knicks are now 7-21 and most Knick fans can’t wait to see who they play next. It is Miami on Friday night, in Miami. The Heat are 19-8. It will be a challenge. Maybe the Knicks are up for it!

The Boxscore

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