Defense & Determination. Reasons Why NY 101 Atlanta 92 in Game 2

This was a tie game with 5 minutes left — 91-91. The Knicks had used Defense and Determination to come back twice from double-digit deficits. And then in the last 5 minutes, New York Amped up the Defense to a scintillating level — even though it didn’t seem it could be Amped up more than they had already been playing.

And then the final bit of Determination. Against an intense Atlanta defense:

  • Randle drove the lane for a floater off a Derrick Rose pass and the Knicks had 9 straight points and a 100-91 lead with 1:13 left and ballgame.

1. A Game of Runs

It was a game of runs. The Knicks ran out to a 7-4 lead. But Atlanta made a significant run to take a 22-12 lead, led by De’Andre Hunter who made two 3’s, a 3 by Danilo Gallinari, and a jumper by Bogdan Bogdanovic.

Elfrid Payton started out aggressively but played poorly again, missing 2 shots and got the hook 5 minutes in — NY down by 7 points. Derrick Rose came in, and ended up playing 39 minutes. Rose got the Knicks going and helped cut the Knick deficit to 5, at 25-20. But a Kevin Huerter dunk gave Atlanta a 27-20 lead after 1 quarter.

Here Come the Knicks — Atlanta Comes Right Back & Moreso

And then the Knicks 2nd team came in and sparked them — Obi Toppin, Immanuel Quickley, and Alec Burks — playing alongside Rose. Their energy and aggressiveness led the Knicks back to within 32-31 Atlanta with 8 minutes left in the 2nd.

But then Atlanta made a run back — in the last 4 minutes of the half, Trae Young scored 11 points to carry Atlanta to a 15-point lead, 57-42.

A crazy Madison Square Garden crowd and millions of Knick fans watching at home were stunted. When would the Knicks take control of this game? Would they? Could they? Were we heading towards disaster?

RJ Barrett hit a jumper just before the half to make it 57-44 Atlanta.

Here Come the Knicks

The two teams traded buckets for the first 6 minutes of the 3rd — Atlanta maintaining their 12-pt lead — and then the Knicks began another run: RJ Barrett and Derrick Rose scored and Reggie Bullock hit back-to-back 3’s to tie the game at 72-72 with 2:41 left in the 3rd.

Julius Randle hit a step-back 12-footer and NY had a 74-72 lead.

4th Quarter — Knicks with Momentum

The Knicks kept the momentum going at the start of the 4th — it was the reserves again, amping up the Defense and coming at Atlanta offensively: a Burks jumper, Toppin dunk, Nerlens Noel tip-in, Toppin free throws, Quickley floater, and Burks jumper gave NY an 88-78 lead.

Momentum Swing to Atlanta — Refs Give Young Another Call

The Knicks ran a trap and Reggie Bullock stripped Trae Young at midcourt and it looked like a breakaway for a 12-point lead — but the refs called a foul. Bullock was chagrinned that Young got yet another barely-touched-him call. It was a momentum swinger.

Kevin Huerter hit a 3, Young got another call and made free throws, Young hit a floater, and Clint Capela made a layup assist Young and it was 88-87 NY with 6:30 left.

Reggie Bullock hit another Huge 3; but then Bogdonavic hit a jumper and Capela made an alley oop DUNK off a pass from Young to tie the game with 5 minutes left — and you know the rest (described above). The Knicks amped the D even more and found the Determination to get the victory.

2. Vintage Rose Saves the Day

Derrick Rose was spectacular — he was vintage Rose. Where would the Knicks be without him? 39 minutes — he played the entirety of the 2nd nd 3rd quarters, got a bit of a rest at the start of the 4th, and then the big finish. He had 26 pts on 9-21 shooting (2-3 from 3; 6-6 in free throws), 4 assists and a +12.

3. Toppin and the Reserves Spark Knicks

Obi Toppin played 12 huge minutes of energy and attack and defense and dunks and 3’s. He had 8 points, a block and a +6 and it seemed like more.

4. Gibson Grit

With Nerlens Noel playing on an ankle he sprained in the previous game, Taj Gibson got the majority of minutes at center and he played as hard as could be — defense and ripping down rebounds — he had a team-high +23 in 30 minutes; 6 pts (on 3-4 shooting), 7 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block.

5. Bullock Steps Up

Reggie Bullock stepped up his shooting in this game — he was a low-key hero for the Knicks: 15 pts on 5-8 shooting (4-7 from 3 — HUGE 3’s) for a +13 in 31 minutes. Alec Burks had 11 points on 4-13 shooting.

Julius Randle had another poor shooting game (5-16, 2-7 from 3 for 15 pts) but 12 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a Ton of Grit for a +3.

RJ Barrett had a good game (13 pts on 5-14 shooting, 2-5 from 3), and 8 rebounds, but did not play down the stretch. It is ok he is 20 years old. Coach Tom Thibodeau said afterwards he played veterans like Rose, Gibson, Bullock, and Burks a lot because of their experience.

Thibodeau Summed It Up

The Boxscore



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