Burks, Quickley & DEFENSE Carry Knicks. NY 99 Atlanta 90

Alec Burks shot lights-out in the 3rd quarter, and the Knicks laid down a scintillating DEFENSE in the 4th to snuff the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta on a Saturday night, 99-90. Immanuel Quickley had a poor shooting night but led the Knicks at the point, and played a glue defense on Trae Young in the final quarter.

Atlanta had won 7 in a row coming into the game. NY improved to 11-9; Atlanta falls to 11-10. NY was without Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, and Taj Gibson. Both teams were playing the 2nd game of a back-to-back; NY having lost to Phoenix the night before; Atlanta having crushed Memphis 132-100.

“We played HARD,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “And that was the first thing that we wanted to establish. They’re a terrific team. They missed some shots that they normally make. But we were flying around pretty good. And to win on the road against a team like this, you have to play hard on every possession. It requires everyone working together; and when we work together, we’re pretty good.”


NY outscored Atlanta 16-14 in the 4th as both teams were playing a frenetic Defense. Quickley was in Young’s pants. Quentin Grimes was glue. Alec Burks and RJ Barrett also played tough D. Danilo Gallinari and Kevin Huerter were rushed or forced into piss-poor shooting nights — Huerter 4-13 (0-6 from 3) for 8 pts in 38 minutes, and Gallinari 2-11 (1-6 from 3) for 5 pts in 21 minutes.

Mitchell Robinson was a difference maker — the biggest guy on the court defending the paint all night. He showed why he was missed in last year’s playoffs. He only had 1 block but his interior presence was huge — the Hawks could not do anything at the rim with him there (unless they drew him out and threw an alley oop behind him).

Robinson pulled down huge rebounds all night — blocking out Clint Capela who is a rebounding machine. Robinson had 11 rebounds in 27 minutes (still playing limited minutes due to recent concussion). Capella had 21 rebounds in 35 minutes.

Julius Randle didn’t shoot well (3-14, 0-3 from 3, 2-2 in free throws for 8 pts) — but played a good all around game for NY — rotating on Defense and Defending brilliantly, rebounding (11 rebounds), and distributing (4 assists). He had a +2.

2. Knicks Survive Young Surge in 2nd

Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, and RJ Barrett got the Knicks out to a 10-pt lead in the 2nd quarter, before Trae Young went on a shooting spree in the last 2 minutes — hitting consecutive 35-footers, then a drive and floater for 8 straight points to cut the Knick lead to 1 at the half.

Atlanta then rolled off the first 6 points of the 3rd quarter including a Young jumper to start the run, for 15 points in a row (a John Collins free throw had started the run). But RJ Barrett drove to the bucket for a foul and 2 made free throws to end the run. And then Randle hit a deuce.

And then Barrett powered to the rim for a power bucket on the break to regain the Knicks lead.

Then it was Randle again on a dunk off an RJ feed and NY was up 64-61.

3. Burks on Fire

Alec Burks then took over — scoring 12 straight points — hitting a 3, getting fouled on a 3 for 3 successful free throws, and then hitting two more 3’s — to carry NY back to a double-digit lead.

“Big money AB,” said RJ Barrett of Burks afterwards. “He’s always calm and collected. He took over in the 3rd. He’s really good for us. He’s big time.”

Evan Fournier also hit a key bucket and Julius Randle finished the quarter by winding down the clock and making a power drive as the clock ran out. NY had a 85-74 lead.

3. Quickley Leads

Then it was on to the 4th where Immanuel Quickley shined with his play at the point — leading the Knicks with constant aggressiveness up court, distributions, and Defense on Young.

4. Barrett Strong

RJ Barrett had a strong game offensively and defensively. There were times when he was the veteran on the court (at 21 years old), leading the youngsters (Grimes, Jericho Sims, Obi Toppin, and Quickley). He made bully moves to the bucket, 3’s, and at one point faked a 3 and drove baseline for a mid-range jumper from the right baseline. A strong game from him.

5. Toppin to the Moon

Obi Toppin played another great game with high-energy on Offense and Defense. He had the play of the night off a Quentin Grimes alley-oop on the break.

Even Quentin Grimes himself was impressed by the dunk, retweeting it:

6. Fournier Played Well

Evan Fournier played well on both sides of the ball. He had 20 points on 7-13 shooting in 29 minutes, and is a playmaker — dribbling and penetrating when he is not shooting — which is an advantage offensively over Reggie Bullock whom he replaced.

7. The Kids Did Good

Quentin Grimes played 15 minutes of Tough defense, and was 1-3 (1-2 from 3) for 3 points and a +8. With Noel and Gibson out, Jericho Sims was first man off the bench for 21 minutes at center — 6 rebounds and a +14.

“I thought our bench was terrific,” added Thibodeau. “The way they played when they came in. Jericho gave us really good minutes. Quentin gave us really good minutes.”

Overall game highlights:

The Boxscore


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