The Hawks got their first win of the season on Thursday night, beating the Knicks 112-101 in Madison Square Garden. New York was able to keep the game close early on, but the Hawks guards took over the game against the defensively deficient Knicks backcourt, wrecking havoc in coach Mike Budenholzer’s constant-motion offense. Jeff Teague attacked the Knicks’ Jose Calderon at every opportunity, opening up the offense for his teammates and getting everyone involved early. Kyle Korver and Al Horford each had two three-pointers in the first period as the Hawks opened up a ten-point lead.
The Knicks clawed back early in the second quarter, opening up on a 13-2 run with an impressive showing from their bench, including Jerian Grant, whom the Knicks picked up in the trade with the Hawks on draft night. The Hawks quickly countered with their four All-Stars from a season ago and had a 16-point lead at halftime.
Lamar Patterson and Justin Holiday were the wing substitutes in this game with Thabo Sefolosha inactive. Patterson notched 21 minutes, up from 18 against Detroit on Tuesday, and even got some fourth-quarter minutes with Teague, Korver, Millsap, and Horford. Noticeable in his absence from the court was Tim Hardaway Jr., who spent his first two years with the Knicks before being traded to the Hawks this offseason. Hardaway Jr. has yet to make his debut for Atlanta and will have to prove to the Atlanta coaching staff that he deserves to play over the improving Patterson. Patterson’s immediate impact has been a massive surprise for the Hawks, given that he barely made the roster as the 15th man in preseason.
The Hawks also ran out the Millsap-Horford-Splitter frontcourt trio against the larger Knicks lineups with Millsap guarding Carmelo Anthony on the wing. Millsap didn’t have a great game offensively, finishing just 3-for-11 from the field, but he was the Hawks’ leading rebounder and pitched in five assists and five steals, guarding everyone from Anthony to the 7’3” Latvian rookie Kristaps Porzingis. Millsap’s defensive versatility will come in handy for the Hawks this year; his ability to guard a multitude of positions and players will allow Budenholzer to run out a lot of different lineups early in the season and experiment with lineups, which can be valuable in case somebody gets hurt.
The Knicks went on a short-lived run late in the third quarter to cut the Hawks lead to 11, but that was as close as they would get in the second half as Atlanta ran away with the game. Teague and Schröder continued to attack the Knicks’ guards and find open shots for themselves and their teammates. Teague finished with 23 points on 12 shots to go along with eight assists and four rebounds and Schröder converted six of his 11 shots for 13 points. As a team, the Hawks shot 10-for-24 from behind the three-point line, far better than the 8-for-27 showing against the Pistons.
The Hawks go back to Atlanta for the beginning of a home-and-home series on Friday and Sunday with the Charlotte Hornets.