HAWKS 100 KNICKS 90 | PHILIPS ARENA
How it happened:
Prior to Friday‘s matchup in Atlanta, Josh Smith lauded the offensive capabilities of Carmelo Anthony. The topic was especially relevant considering Anthony’s recent shift to the power forward position with Amar’e Stoudemire out due to a bulging disk in his back.
The two power forwards engaged in a battle throughout the contest that featured Anthony scoring a game-high 36 points in the 100-90 loss and Smith posting 23.
After falling behind by 12 points in the first half, the Knicks fought their way back into the game by outscoring Atlanta 29-22 in the third quarter. Anthony sunk a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds on the clock to conclude the period and trim the Hawks lead to 74-69 heading into the final stanza.
Steve Novak connected on an early long bomb as New York trailed 76-72. The Knicks defense focused on double teaming Smith in the post, which forced the high-flyer into turnovers. While the pressure defense worked on one side, Anthony kept New York in the game with an old fashioned 3-point play at the 8:56 mark. The bucket and foul dropped Atlanta’s lead to 80-78.
While the stars from both teams certainly shined, an unsuspecting player rose to the occasion for Atlanta. Willie Green emerged as the Hawks hero in the fourth quarter with 15 of his 20 points.
Joe Johnson was also a key contributor for Atlanta after he missed the first meeting in New York. The Hawks shooting guard made his presence felt by hitting timely buckets and providing his squad with 28 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor.
For only the second time in the Mike Woodson era, the Knicks allowed 100 points and fell to 26-26 on the season.
Anthony grinded his way to a terrific performance despite a sore groin that has bothered him since the Milwaukee game early in the week. New York’s leading scorer hit 13 of his 14 free throw attempts and finished 11-of-24 from the floor in 40 minutes of work. Anthony added nine boards and an impressive five steals while defending Smith deep in the paint for most of the night.
In his second straight game, Iman Shumpert has elevated his offensive output. The rookie out of Georgia Tech returned to familiar territory with a big 25-point performance. He was efficient by connecting on 9-of-14 shots from the floor and 3-of-5 beyond the arc.
Anthony and Shumpert combined for 61 of the Knicks 90 points tonight.
Following the contest in Atlanta, the Knicks jumped on a plane back to New York and will have a quick turnaround with a matchup against Cleveland on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.