The Knicks showed they can win without playing their “A” game.
Julius Randle led all scorers with 29 points while Jalen Brunson scored 10 of his 24 in the fourth quarter as the Knicks survived with a 116-114 win over the Atlanta Hawks at State Farm Arena last night.
The Knicks won this game on their grit and hustle because they were careless with the ball and allowed an inferior Hawks team to hang around and almost steal this one.
“We sorta got into a rut in the fourth and fell behind, 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,” Coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Randle added 10 rebounds and 8 assists as he was able to take advantage of a size matchup against some smaller Hawks players. It was Randle’s best all around game of the season and Thibodeau saw it coming.
“I just loved how aggressive he [Randle] was to start the game. You could see it, he’s feeling better and better,” Thibodeau said. “I knew his rhythm would come around, the way he can score the ball. His shot is grooved now, like you can see the way it’s coming off his hand.”
The Knicks committed 17 turnovers that led to 21 of the Hawks’ points and their bench was outscored 55-37 but they made clutch plays in the fourth quarter as they won for the first time without R.J. Barrett, who missed his second straight game with a migraine headache.
The Knicks had a 42-30 edge on the boards led by Mitchell Robinson whose line score of 15 rebounds, including 6 on the offensive end, doesn’t reflect the grit and hustle plays he made throughout the game. “He’s got bodies on him and he’s still coming up with rebounds,” Thibodeau said.
Barrett missed his fourth game of the season and the Knicks had lost the previous three, but Immanuel Quickley picked up the slack with 20 points, including a 5-0 stretch that keyed an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter. Isaiah Hartenstein gave the Knicks totaled 11 points and 4 rebounds in 17 solid minutes off the bench.
After the Hawks went on an 11-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to take a 101-94 lead, the Knicks called a time out that turned the game. In the huddle, Randle implored a sluggish Quickley to get going and the 24-year old responded with five straight points.
“Julius was yelling at Quick, he was telling him to be his self. We went out there and Quick was his self. I think he had like five quick ones in a row and really got in position for us to really close the game,” Josh Hart said. “We have a good team, good camaraderie. We have moments like that where guys challenge each other and guys step up.”
Brunson’s three, following a hustle play by Robinson, with less than four minutes left, capped off the run and gave the Knicks a 102-101 lead. “He’s [Robinson] able to do that night in and night out,” Brunson said. “The key play he had was when he dove on the floor and kicked out to Josh and hit the three. That all starts with Mitch, he does all that stuff.”
With 1:13 remaining and the Knicks leading 110-107, Quickley was called for a shooting foul on Young who was beyond the arc. Quickley reached in and Thibodeau challenged the call but it was upheld. Young hit all three free throws to tie the game at 110.
The Knicks hustled to a 112-110 lead when Randle capped off a solid possession with a driving lay up off of a feed from Brunson. Josh Hart had kept the possession alive with a big offensive rebound and that keyed the go ahead basket.
Young was fouled on the ensuing possession but only made one of two to cut the Knicks lead to one but Brunson outsmarted a double team and hit a pull up shot from the foul circle to make it 114-111 with 19 seconds left.
Dejounte Murray’s driving lay up made it 114-113 but Quickley hit two free throws to make it a three point game with nine seconds left.
The Knicks led 116-113 with 4.7 seconds left but Donte DiVicenzo could not get the ball in bounds. A five second violation was called resulting in the Knicks’ 17th turnover of the game.
Murray took the inbounds but Brunson committed a smart foul before the Hawks guard was able to take the shot. Murray made the first but purposely missed the second with the hope of getting a chance to tie, but he committed a lane violation and the Knicks ran out the clock on an impressive road win.
The Knicks started fast as they led 33-22 after one and had no turnovers in the first quarter but six in the second quarter as the Hawks took their first lead since the early minutes of the game. With under four minutes remaining in the second quarter, Bey scored on a lay up to give the Hawks a 52-51 lead.
Randle and Brunson had combined for 22 points but only four in the second quarter as the Hawks shot 65% in the second quarter to cut the Knicks lead to one at halftime, 57-56.
After the Hawks took a 66-65 lead in the third quarter, Brunson hit two consecutive three pointers and Randle added a three as the Knicks used a 9-0 run to go up, 74-66.
Randle and Brunson combined for 22 points in the first quarter but only 4 in the second but they found their game again in the third. Randle scored seven while Brunson had six points in the quarter as the Knicks took an 87-81 lead after three. “Quarters two and three, really didn’t do much, just wasn’t being myself,” Brunson said. “Everyone had each other’s backs, talked me up and I was ready to help close out the game.”
Bogdan Bogdanovic was having a great night against the Knicks but, for some strange reason, he was on the bench for almost the final five minutes of the game. Bogdanovic, who led the Hawks with 28 points off the bench, returned with less than a minute but he tossed up an awful three point shot that missed with less than 10 seconds left.
The Knicks (6-5) evened their record at 1-1 to start this five game road trip and have won four of their last five, but it may have come with a price. Quentin Grimes left the game early in the fourth quarter with an injury to his left hand.