No Defense. Atlanta 139 NY 124

It was a close, back-and-forth game until the 4th quarter, when Atlanta put on the afterburners and took the game easily. Final score Atlanta 139 NY 124, on a Friday night in Atlanta.

Both teams shot lights out from the start, seemingly making every shot they took. Atlanta pulled ahead in the 3rd by double digits, but Julius Randle went nuts to bring the Knicks right back to within 2 points. And then came the 4th.

“Credit to them, they’re playing great basketball right now,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. “They went on a run and we couldn’t stop the bleeding. I liked our offense a lot. But, right from the start, there was no defensive urgency or mindset.”

“Defensively we made it an offensive game and they’re too good to do that,” added Thibs. “You have to be tied together on defense when you’re playing them and I don’t feel we were.”

NY falls to 25-22; Atlanta improves to 24-22.

1. Randle Led NY

Julius Randle was ON FIRE in the 3rd quarter, bringing the Knicks back from a double-digit deficit. He finished with 32 points on 11-22 shooting (3-6 from 3), 9 rebounds, and 6 assists.

“We just gave them a little bit of everything,” said Julius Randle afterwards when asked about the Knicks defensive issues. “We didn’t stop the ball in transition; pick and roll we weren’t great; stepped late when they kicked out on close outs, and gave guys like Hunter and Collins and Bogey shots — and they stepped up and made them.”

“We just got to be tighter on that end; get the ball out of the paint,” continued Randle when asked how the team could improve the D. “Our defense is a team thing. When we’re all on a string and playing for each other we’re good.”

2. No Mitch; Rebounding a Problem

Mitchell Robinson was out — and will be out a while after surgery on his thumb — but Jericho Sims started and did well, especially on the offensive end.

Sims is better coordinated inside on offense than Robinson, with an ability to put the ball on the floor. He was 6-6 from the floor for 12 points and 8 rebounds. But his defensive intensity wasn’t quite as intense as what Mitch provides — Sims had 2 steals but 0 blocks.

Sims rebounded well but overall Atlanta outrebounded NY 39-34, including getting the ball back with offensive rebounds on several sequences in the 3rd quarter.

“The rebounding is not a 1-man proposition,” said Thibs afterwards. “It’s a team rebounding. We need our guards rebounding; we need our bigs rebounding. We need everyone rebounding. When we do that we’re a good rebounding team. When we rely on one or two people, we’re not.”

3. Barrett Shot Efficiently

RJ Barrett scored with efficiency — 23 points on 9-16 shooting (3-5 from 3; 2-2 in free throws). Jalen Brunson added 19 points on 7-14 shooting.

4. Quick Played 36 Minutes

Immanuel Quickley played 36 minutes off the bench — and had 11 points on 5-5 shooting from the floor. Quentin Grimes started but played only 16 minutes — he had 10 points on 4-7 shooting.

4. Atlanta Had More Offensive Weapons

But Atlanta ended up seeming to have more weapons than the Knicks — Dejounte Murray (14-25 for 29 pts) and Trae Young (9-21 for 27 pts) in the backcourt, and De’Andre Hunter (7-11 for 20 pts) and John Collins (7-8 for 17 pts) up front. Add Clint Capela (3-6 for 7 pts, 9 rebounds), and then Bogdan Bogdanovic (6-12 for 14 pts) and 6’9 Onyeka Okongwu (6-7 for 14 pts, 7 rebounds) off the bench.

Atlanta is coached by Nate McMillan.

“As I said they’re playing at a very high level right now,” said Thibodeau. “They’re sharing the ball, they’re making plays for each other They’re well coordinated. Their bigs are moving, setting good screens for them. Then their bench comes in and they keep constant pressure on you.”

The Boxscore

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