Can’t Shoot Straight. Except Rose. Reasons Why Atlanta 105 NY 94 in Game 3

The Knicks couldn’t shoot straight. All night. Except for Derrick Rose. Meanwhile, Atlanta went on a 19-4 run at the end of the 2nd quarter, to  turn a 39-38 Knicks lead into a 58-42 Atlanta lead. A Rose jumper just before the half made it 58-44 Atlanta at the break. And the Knicks could never overcome that deficit, remaining about 14 points behind Atlanta throughout the 2nd half — sometimes pulling to within 12 then falling back by 17 then pulling to within 12, etc. They could not mount a significant run because they kept missing shots.


1. Another Poor Game for Randle

Julius Randle had another horrid shooting game: 2-15 (2-7 from 3) for 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and a -9. Oddly enough his 3-pt shooting in all the games hasn’t been that bad. But he’s lost his mid-range jumper.

After the game John Collins, who defends him — was asked what Atlanta is doing to stop him. “It’s a secret,” said Collins. “I can’t tell you completely. But what I can tell you is we turned up the intensity, the physicality; my mentality and I think a couple of guy’s mentality has changed. Definitely the things we needed to change from a baseline level have been changed.”

“They loaded up on him pretty good,” said Tom Thibodeau. When a team does that, and they put 2 and 3 guys on you, you got to make the play. You got to get easy buckets, transition, or off drive and kick; you got to keep moving around. And he’s seen a lot of that this year. But when you have a 2nd and then the 3rd guy — that can make it tough — but that should lead to the offensive rebounding and 3’s on the backside, so we have to trust the pass.”

2. Another Poor Shooting Game for Everyone Else (Except Rose)

At the half, Randle was 1-9, RJ Barrett 0-5, and Immanuel Quickley 1-5; the Knicks were down the 14 points. At the game’s end — these were the shooting numbers:

And the sarcastic jokes flowed: “who has less support — Luka Doncic or Derrick Rose?”

Rose said afterward, “When we’re not making shots, we still got to find a way to play with a consistent urgency and effort. They did a great job of finding guys on the second pass; hockey assists. If it wasn’t the 2nd pass they were driving the ball on the 2nd pass; just creating havoc. And we just need to make an adjustment.”

He added, “Everything fell apart in the 2nd quarter. We weren’t making shots and they gained confidence. We just have to find a way to grind it out when we’re not making shots. We can’t play lackadaisical on the defensive end when we’re not making shot.”

3. Rose a Rose

Derrick Rose was a rose again and again and again. 30 points on 13-21 shooting (1-5 rom 3, 2-2 in free throws), 6 rebounds, 5 assists. He carried the Knicks. And yet finished with a -16 so it goes to show how plus/minus numbers can be trash.

Rose had to guard Trae Young for almost the whole night — Rose played 39 minutes. Elfrid Payton did not start and did not play. Immanuel Quickley and Burks played the point when Rose wasn’t in (although Frank Ntilikina saw less than a minute of daylight in the 2nd quarter before coming back out).

4. Atlanta’s Balanced Attack

Trae Young led the 19-4 run and finished with 21 pts on 8-19 shooting. But he didn’t kill the Knicks — Atlanta’s balanced attack did. Bogdan Bogdanovic was a pain in the ass all night — whenever the Knicks tried to make a run, there was Bogdanovic with a 3 or a score inside. Bogdanovic had 15 points on 6-12 shooting (3-4 from 3) but it felt like 30.

And then there was Kevin Huerter hitting a 3 whenever the Knicks tried to climb back into the game; he was 3-5 from the floor (3-4 from 3) for 10 pts.

De’Andre Hunter had 11 pts on 5-11 shooting, and John Collins rebounded off his horrible game in game 2 to have a very good all around game — beyond the defense on Randle (above) he was 6-11 (2-5 from 3) for 14 pts.

Clint Capela was tough defensively inside — causing Knicks to second-guess their drives. And he scored efficiently too — 6-8 on inside lobs and slams; 13 pts, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks.

5. The Answer to the Secret

Rose added: “They’re doubling from weird spots. They’re coming from sometime the top, mostly baseline, but if they make a move toward the top, their guys are doing a good job of just being in, right there; or just making sure a guy doesn’t get a clean lane or clean look. That’s what I mean about fast-break points — when you know that a team is playing in on your like that; you have to find ways to get anyone easy baskets; and you get that mostly in the open court, when the defense isn’t set, and they’re not locked in on you like that.”

6. Some Good News?

If there was just a little bit of good news — Nerlens Noel looked more recovered from the sprained ankle he played game 2 with — and played 22 minutes. He attacked the rim and got calls — going 10-12 from the free throw line for 12 points. They will need him healthy to take it back at Atlanta in a hope to win this series.

Taj Gibson played well in 26 minutes and Reggie Bullock didn’t shoot that poorly (3-8, 2-6 from 3, 3-3 in free throws for 11 pts).

Obi Toppin played well again in 13 minutes — 4 pts and a -2. He wasn’t out there during the Atlanta run.

And the best news of all is what Tom Thibodeau and Derrick Rose said after the game (above). The Knicks played poorly in this game — shot poorly and didn’t have enough defensive intensity. On top of it Atlanta had that run in the 2nd to gain the confidence and momentum. The Knicks can play a lot better than they did in this game.

The Boxscore


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