Knicks put on a show at MSG on Christmas Day
The New York Knicks put on an impressive show in their win against a short-handed Atlanta Hawks roster. Atlanta’s roster has been ravaged by COVID-19 protocol. Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Onyeka Okongwu, Lou Williams, Sharife Cooper, and others were not present for this game. In addition, Deandre Hunter remains out with a lingering right wrist injury.
Derrick Rose (ankle) and Immanuel Quickley (COVID-19 protocol) were the notable absences in the Big Apple today, along with Nerlens Noel and Miles McBride. McBride and Noel were also on the COVID-19 list.
New York started off firing from the first half, shooting nearly 21% better from the field than Atlanta. The Knicks shot 8% better from downtown and looked almost electric on offense. Energized by Kemba Walker, the Knicks were able to move the ball, find the open man, and get nearly anything they wanted on the offensive end.
In his past three games, Kemba has looked completely different, averaging a whopping 31.3 points per game. He nearly had a triple double at half time. The hustle, IQ, leadership, and playmaking of Kemba makes everyone else around him better, and that was evident in the first half against Atlanta. Kemba’s influence cannot be underestimated.
Another major contributor on offense was their leader, Julius Randle. With only two missed shots, Randle piled in 14 points and 10 rebounds by halftime. Randle truly moved on the ball with a purpose, and minimized silly offensive mistakes. He also shot extremely well from beyond the arc this game.
What’s most impressive, is that he played this efficiently against John Collins, another star in this league. Randle finished the game with 25 points, and a dagger three with 3:00 left. Kemba Walker eventually tallied a triple double for himself, becoming the seventh NBA player to ever have a triple-double on Christmas.
Through their unselfish play, the Knicks were able to find the open man and knock down their shots. This theme followed them throughout the game and even allowed guys like Quentin Grimes and Evan Fournier to have huge performances. Grimes at times looked automatic downtown and Fournier hit some big shots as well. They each combined for 30 points. Even Obi Toppin contributed offensively, including a through-the-legs dunk to send fans home with a nice Christmas gift.
Defensively, Mitchell Robinson was an absolute menace. Robinson did a fantastic job anchoring New York's interior defense. Robinson was blocking nearly every shot he saw, and also was effective as a rebounding presence. These types of performances are the ones that make teams scared to attack the paint, and that’s exactly what happened to Atlanta with Mitchell Robinson. On top of his game-leading five blocks, he also held Clint Capela to 1-6 from the field. On both sides of the ball, everything seemed to click for New York.
As for Atlanta, they struggled to score and keep up with New York. John Collins, Cam Reddish, and Delon Wright all had their impacts felt. However, a 23-8 lead out of the gates proved to be too much for Atlanta’s depleted roster. They shot horribly all game and just didn’t play with the same energy New York brought today. New York ended up winning the Christmas Day game 101-87. After a dominant battle against Atlanta, the Knicks have 15 wins on the season. Their next matchup is Tuesday, in Minnesota.