Clutch. Knicks Find a Way to Win. NY 116 Atlanta 114

The Knicks led this free-flowing game in Atlanta for most of the night, until Atlanta made a run midway thru the 4th to go up by 7 points with 5:20 left.

The Knicks called timeout, regrouped, and rolled out of the timeout with 8 straight points to retake the lead. Down the stretch they made clutch play after clutch play to get the win — with Mitchell Robinson scraping for key rebounds, and Immanuel Quickley, and then Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and Josh Hart making Clutch bucket after Clutch bucket.

The Knicks dominated the boards all night, and imposed their will at the end. They “found a way to win”, something that has been coach Tom Thibodeau’s mantra this season.

“I like the way we started the game,” said Thibs afterwards. “And then we sort of got into a rut in the 4th and fell behind, but showed a lot of toughness — more mental than physical — to continue to fight and find a way to win. And that’s the bottom line — just finding a way to win.”

NY improves to 6-5. Atlanta falls to 6-5. This was the 2nd time the Knicks have beaten Atlanta in Atlanta this season, beating them 126-120 in Atlanta for their first win of the year. RJ Barrett missed his second consecutive game with a migrane headache.

1. Knicks Owned Boards & Controlled Game

Mitchell Robinson dominated the boards over Clint Capela, and Julius Randle, Josh Hart and the whole Knick team did their part to own the glass.

Atlanta has replaced John Collins with 6’8, 21-year-old Jalen Johnson — the 21st pick in the 2021 draft — and he did a good job all night but he and Capela were no match for the Knicks front line. “The glass; that’s where the game was,” said Atlanta coach Quin Snyder over and over in the post-game interview. “We need to rebound with 5 guys.”

“We have to do a better job on the defensive glass”, added Snyder. “Obviously this team (the Knicks) — that’s something they do. I think we all know that the glass was a big thing tonite.”

The Knicks jumped out to a 25-15 lead in the 1st quarter and were in command of the game, leading 33-22 heading into the 2nd quarter.

But Atlanta is a high scoring team and they came right back.

Bogdan Bogdanovic was hitting 3’s and then Saddiq Bey joined him in hitting 3’s and before you knew it Atlanta pulled to within a point and then took the lead 52-51 with 4 minutes left in the half. NY bullied their way back — with inside buckets by Robinson and Randle to take a 1-point lead at the half.

The 3rd was a free-flowing affair with the lead going back and forth until the Knicks re-took command midway through the quarter on back-to-back Jalen Brunson 3’s and a 3 by Randle — NY taking an 87-81 lead into the 4th.

2. Atlanta Makes Run in 4th

But Atlanta came right back in the 4th. Bogdanovic hit free throws and a 3, and Trae Young — who had been clamped down offensively all night — started hitting shots.

A Saddiq Bey 3 rolled in — bounced out — hit the backboard and rolled back in to cut the Knick lead to 94-93. A Brunson drive down the other end rolled in and out.

Bogdonavic hit free throws to give Atlanta the lead. Then Dejounte Murray — who also had been clamped down all night — hit a pullup. A Saddiq Bey slam off an offensive rebound put Atlanta up by 7 with 5:20 left. NY timeout.

3. Knicks ROLL Out of Time Out with 5:20 Left

“Julius was yelling at Quick, telling him to be himself,” revealed Josh Hart of what happened in the timeout. “We felt like Quick wasn’t doing that. And then we went out there, and Quick was himself — I think he had like 5 quick ones in a row and really got us in position to close the game. We have a good team; good camaraderie and we have moments like that where guys challenge each other, and guys step up.”

Quickley had been playing well, but on several drives his ball rolled in and out of the rim, and he had become a bit hesitant.

Not after the timeout.

He immediately hit a no-hesitation 3 from the top of the key. Then next time down he drove the lane for a runner, banking it in. 5 straight points out of the time out for Quick.

Robinson Dives for Offensive Rebound to Hart to Brunson — Play of the Game

Next time down, Randle drove baseline but missed, but Mitchell Robinson dove for the loose ball — saved it while sliding out of bounds passing it back out to Josh Hart — who found Jalen Brunson at the top of the key for a 3 — SWISH Knicks take the lead! NY 102 Atlanta 101 with 3:54 left.

Mitchell Robinson‘s effort/activity result in winning plays,” noted NBA Analyst Ross Kreines. “He’s relentless on both backboards and his work on the offensive glass results in 2nd chance opportunities and on the defensive backboard he limits you to one possession. Also sets good screens, defends and always engaged.”

4. NY Made CLUTCH Plays Down Stretch

The two teams then traded blows:

  • Trae Young hit a drive to put Atlanta back on top.
  • Quickley hit one of 2 free throws to tie it.
  • Dejounte Murray hit a pullup to put Atlanta back up.
  • Quickley hit 2 CLutch free throws to tie it.
  • Dejounte Murray hit another step-back deuce to put Atlanta back up.

Randle to Brunson for a 3 in the Corner

With NY down 2 and 2 minutes left, Julius Randle worked down low — got triple teamed — found Brunson in the right corner for a 3 and BANG — the Knicks took the lead, 108-107.

Dejounte Murray took it to the hole but Hart defended well and Mitchell Robinson blocked it on help defense.

On the other end Brunson penetrated and fed Hart for a runner in the lane — Knicks up 3 and taking command, 110-107.

But down other end, Trae Young tricked Quickley into fouling him at 3 point range — doing a quick pullup of his arms with Quick standing there to draw the foul. The Knicks challenged but lost the challenge. Young hit all free throws to tie the game with 1:13 left.

Hart HUGE Offensive Rebound — fed Brunson to Randle — Play of Game #2

Randle backed inside but missed a fallaway — but Josh Hart got a HUGE offensive rebound — fed Brunson, who penetrated and dished to a driving Randle for a pretty layup and Knick 2-pt lead!

Trae Young was fouled down other end but missed the 2nd of 2 free throws and NY had a 1-point advantage and the ball with 30 seconds left.

Brunson Hit CLUTCH Jumper

Brunson came down — hounded — but got to his spot with a shake-and-bake and hit a pullup 15-footer for a 3-pt Knick lead with 18 seconds left. CLUTCH.

“His mental toughness is off the charts,” said Thibodeau about Brunson.

Quickley CLUTCH Free Throws

Murray hit a runner to pull Atlanta back within 1, and fouled Quickley who hit two CLUTCH free throws to put NY back up 3 with 9 seconds left.

After a timeout — Atlanta ran a play for Bogdanovic to shoot a 3 — but he inexplicably hoisted one up immediately after the inbounds catch and shot an air ball.

DiVincenzo Couldn’t Inbound the Ball In Time

NY inbounded in front court with 4 seconds left and a 3-point lead — but Donte DiVincenzo couldn’t find anyone and got it in just at the 5-second count — the refs called it and NY turned the ball over!

Head’s Up Quickley Foul Denying the 3

With one final chance at a tie and 4.7 seconds left — Quickley fouled Dejounte Murray just before Murry hoisted up a 3 (which he missed but could’ve hit). It was a smart play. Murray went to the line and hit the 1st free throw then purposely missed the 2nd — and then got called for a lane violation. Knick ball — 2 pt lead with 3.9 seconds left. DiVincenzo got the ball inbounds to Brunson up court for the old ballgame. PHEW.

“They’re a very high scoring team,” said Thibs about Atlanta. “So you know you can’t let your guard down. I thought Bogdanovic and Bey hurt us off the bench. And Bogdanovic has been playing great. They do a good job of kicking it ahead. Bogdonavic is going to let it go. There were times when we were right there and he let it go and he made it. He’s a great shooter. They’re a hard team. Their big guys run; their guards make plays; they’re playmakers. It was a good solid win.”

The Boxscore


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