Hawks vs. Knicks — Things of Note

Graham Chapple —  January 30, 2017

(AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

Wow. Where to even start?

It took all 48 minutes of regulation and four overtime periods but the Hawks, eventually, emerged from Philips Arena with a 142-139 victory against the New York Knicks. Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with a season high 45 points while Brandon Jennings added 18 points. 23 of Melo’s 45 points came in the first half where Melo and the Knicks hung 65 first half points on the Hawks. Melo and Jennings were two of six Knicks who scored in double-digits.

One for the ages

What a game. How does one even try to break this game down? We’ll give it a shot anyways and we’ll start in the fourth quarter.

The Hawks took a 103-102 lead thanks to this lob from Dennis Schröder to Dwight Howard.

The Knicks would miss their next shot, leaving them little choice but to intentionally foul with the shot and game clock not in their favor. Tim Hardaway Jr. would miss his second free throw, giving the Knicks the chance to either tie or win this game, trailing by just two points, 104-102. Carmelo Anthony tied the game with this powerful drive.

Melo believed that this should’ve been the final statement in this game, believing he got fouled:

“The game should have been over at that point.” — Carmelo Anthony

With just 2.6 seconds to work with, the Hawks dialled up Paul Millsap out of the timeout but he was well defended by Melo and the game went to overtime.

In the first overtime period, the Knicks appear to gain the advantage, taking a three point lead (111-108) with the opportunity to drain some clock and score themselves. Melo missed a three-pointer and the Hawks took control the rebound and now needed a basket to keep their hopes alive down three points with just over a minute remaining. And they got it. Joakim Noah committed a foul on Dwight Howard as he laid the ball in off the glass. He missed the free throw but the Hawks caught a break as Melo committed a silly foul on Tim Hardaway Jr., and THJ headed to the free throw line with the Hawks trailing 111-110. Timmy hit the first free throw but missed the second one that would’ve put the Hawks ahead again. Another miss from the Knicks and the Hawks, out of a timeout, headed the other way. Dennis drove past the Knick defense and scored, putting the Hawks up 113-11 with 22 seconds left. But the Knicks weren’t done yet. Out of a timeout, the Knicks get a favorable switch, THJ on Melo, and Melo took his former protogé toward the block, stepped back and tied the game again.

The Hawks called for a timeout and had a little time to work with this time around, 6.9 seconds. With the chance to win the game, this is what the Hawks came up with out of the timeout:

Exactly how coach Bud drew it up, right? Absolutely horrible decision from Dennis, who had time to drive. Dwight Howard, who came up with the offensive rebound off the airball, probably had more time than he realised and rushed his shot. To second overtime we go…

In the second overtime period things got a little chippy. Dennis and Melo both went to ground and, after Melo is whistled for a foul, the pair jawed back and forth at each other.

Postgame, Dennis did not pretend to be the innocent victim:

No techs were issued.

After that, the Hawks appeared to gain control. They took a four point lead (119-115) with just over 2 minutes of play remaining. After Dwight Howard fouled out, Melo hit a three-pointer and the game — and butt clenching — was back on. After some Paul Millsap free throws, Melo continued to put the pressure on the Hawks with a jump shot and made a one point game with 1:15 remaining. The two sides would miss their next shots and the Hawks were in possession of the ball with 24 seconds left. Dennis Schröder made up for his blunder at the end of the first overtime period when he drove towards the rim, converted the layup and drew the sixth foul on Carmelo Anthony, who had been a thorn in the Hawks’ side not just this game but all season. With a foul shot to come and a three point lead with 12 seconds remaining, the Hawks had the opportunity to make this a four point and take control of this game. But Dennis was unable to convert the three-point play and gave the Knicks hope. Out of the timeout, Courtney Lee hit the deep three-pointer to tie the game at 123 apiece.

With 1.5 seconds to work with, the Hawks are unable to get a shot up and the game headed to a third overtime period.

While Lee’s three was a blow, the Knicks — already without Kristaps Porzingis who fouled out in the fourth quarter — were now without their leading scorer Carmelo Anthony. With both sides feeling the effects of fatigue, neither team was able to distance themselves from each other. Dennis Schröder was very lucky not to be called for a technical foul after slamming the ball into the floor, sailing into the crowd.

It definitely seemed as though the officials were allowing for the fact that this was the third overtime period and guys were exhausted. In regulation, this is probably whistled as a tech (as it should’ve been here, the fact that it’s 3OT shouldn’t change that) but the refs let Dennis off the hook this time.

After a poor foul from Tim Hardaway Jr. on Courtney Lee, Lee made both resulting free throws to put the Knicks up 130-128 with nine seconds remaining. The Knicks, twice, had come up with plays to tie the game with the shot clock off, now it was the Hawks’ turn. A very bold decision not to call a timeout after the made free throws paid off, Dennis blew by the defense and got all the way to the rim to tie the game.

Lee’s shot to end 3OT was well defended by Hardaway and it missed. However, THJ took an inadvertent elbow in his face for his troubles but he got the stop the Hawks needed. The game headed to a fourth overtime period, the first in the NBA since last season’s Bull-Pistons game and the Hawks’ first since 2012 against the Utah Jazz.

No one expected what was to follow in 4OT. Despite players tolling a massive number of minutes and many shots already falling shot (if not, drawing air), an incredible three-point shootout from both sides broke out.

Who said these guys were tired?? Huge three-pointers from Kent Bazemore to keep the Hawks in this game, and to keep the shootout going.

“You’ve got to make plays. That’s what it’s all about. I was being patient. They were kind of denying me for a minute but I was able to sneak open and get some shots.” — Kent Bazemore

Offensively, I thought Bazemore was fantastic in this game and did a great job (bar one horrible shot near the end of regulation) of letting the offense come to him rather than Baze forcing the issue.

The shootout eventually ended and the Hawks came up with the stops they needed before Paul Millsap secured an offensive rebound and putback to put the Hawks up for good, but not without more butt-clenching… Out of the timeout, the Knicks turned the ball over and now the Hawks had possession of the ball with 14 seconds remaining, meaning the Knicks would have to foul. They did and sent Dennis Schröder to the free throw line, who had the chance to bury the Knicks for good, he could put the Hawks up by four if he made both free throws. Dennis made the first one but missed the second one and the Knicks, somehow, were still alive. After rebounding his own three-point miss, Courtney Lee got a great look in the corner from three but missed it and the game, finally, ended.

The end of a game for Atlanta ages. Should you want to watch every single basket from the end of regulation to the fourth overtime period, the NBA’s YouTube department have made this video for your viewing pleasure:

“Pretty amazing game, huh? It felt like both sides had it won several times and both teams made big plays and big shots. There are so many swings of emotion. Pretty special effort. We kept grinding for 68 minutes instead of 48.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

An incredible game. I mean, just look at this graphic. This game felt as long as this graphic looks length-wise.

Absolutely ridiculous.

Not surprisingly, the Hawks cancelled Monday’s practice session in order to recover. Coach Bud also looked like he needed to recover.

Nevertheless, he was glad to get this win.

“…I felt both teams had it won several times and both teams made big plays and big shots. There were so many swings of emotions…it’s great to win this game.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

The Hawks, thankfully for the players, aren’t in action again until Wednesday, giving them a few days to recover.

“If there was ever a time to have two days off, it’s probably after this one. When you are in the heat of the moment, you are just focused on that one and not thinking about down the road.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

Not to be forgotten in this game was how the Hawks’ defense improved in the second half. After a horrible first half defensively, the Hawks really tightened up and went on a 15-0 run while holding the Knicks 8:11 to 1:02 in the third quarter. A much better defensive half.

Paul Millsap’s mammoth effort

If you were a neutral fan watching this game, I hope Paul Millsap made you realise why he was named All-Star for the fourth straight year. Millsap scored a season high 37 points and grabbed a season high 19 rebounds in 60 (SIXTY) minutes of play, playing the final 35:52 of this game.

Millsap is also the oldest player to play 60 minutes in a game and one of a few to actually win said game.

Coach Bud asked Paul if he was good to continue, a silly question as it turned out…

“There’s no chance I was coming out. I’ve never played 60 minutes of basketball.” — Paul Millsap

“…I’m going with Paul in that case.” — Coach Mike Budenholzer

The incredible thing after all of that is Millsap not only seemed to enjoy playing sixty minutes, but could’ve gone for even longer.

While describing the night as fun, Paul is perfectly fine with never playing another four overtime game again (he featured for the Utah Jazz in that 4OT game against the Hawks in 2012 playing 52 minutes):

“Everything different and challenging to me is fun. It was fun. I don’t ever want to do that again but it was fun definitely.” — Paul Millsap

Millsap also did a fantastic job guarding Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter. Paul’s defense forced Melo into two turnovers in the fourth quarter. For this first turnover, Paul fights over the screen and sticks tight to Melo. Melo can’t shake Millsap and he eventually dribbles the ball off of his own foot and out of bounds.

The pressure that Paul put on Melo led to this turnover but Paul wasn’t done with Melo yet…

Here, Melo struggles to shake Millsap with his offensive moves and is forced to give the ball up. Melo then retreats near half-court but, in an effort to create space, clears out Millsap and is called for the offensive foul

This was the second crucial turnover Paul forced Melo into.

With the clock in regulation winding down, the Knicks are in need of a bucket and the Hawks in need of a stop to prevent the Knicks from taking the lead with under a minute remaining. Melo tries to create a shot for himself on the wing but Paul sticks right with him and contests his shot. And it misses.

The absence of Thabo Sefolosha definitely played a role in Melo scoring as many points as he did but Paul Millsap’s defense on Melo to end the fourth quarter (and in overtime) undoubtedly helped the Hawks — eventually — win this game.

“(Just) try to take his space away. The one he hit on the baseline on me, I thought I did a pretty good job on him. With all scorers, at some point they are going to score the ball. He’s one of the best scorers we have in this league.” — Paul Millsap

With the minutes racking up as each overtime period passed, Paul was still out there grinding, hustling and coming up with huge plays time and time again.

In 3OT, with over 50 minutes played, look at how Paul fights for the offensive rebound and the second chance points. Bob Rathbun put it perfectly in commentary “He was not going to be denied”.

And in the fourth overtime, now with 60 minutes played, Millsap crashes the offensive glass again off of the THJ miss and, despite the presence of Willy Hernangomez at the rim, scores the putback, breaking the final tie of this game and putting the Hawks up for good.

I mean, what is there left to say about Paul at this stage? Just an incredible performance from Paul in every facet of the game. And people have the gall to say he shouldn’t be an All-Star…

Costly free throws

The Hawks were very fortunate that their 28-of-40 performance at the free throw line didn’t cost them. Time after time the Hawks missed vital free throws that kept the door open for the Knicks to make a comeback/stay alive. Let’s start with the end of regulation. 

Tim Hardaway Jr. missed the opportunity to put the Hawks by three points with just 10 seconds left for the Knicks to work with. Instead of the Knicks having to draw up a play for a three, THJ’s miss meant they only needed a two point basket to tie this game and that’s what they got, with Melo driving toward the rim and scoring. 

In the first overtime period, Melo commits a silly foul, barrelling over THJ as Dwight misses a free throw, giving THJ the opportunity to shoot free throws and — should he make two — give the Hawks a one point lead with just 53 seconds left. He makes the first one but misses the second one…

In the second overtime period, Melo had just fouled out of the game as Dennis Schroder had made a huge basket to put the Hawks up by three with 12.9 seconds left. Dennis now had the opportunity — from the free throw line — to put the Hawks up by 4, essentially ending the game with the Knicks needing a desperation three. But Schroder missed the free throw and the Knicks were still alive. With the door just open enough to peer through, the Knicks decided to go for the game tying three and Courtney Lee sunk the miracle shot to tie the game. Another missed opportunity for the Hawks at the free throw line. 

In the fourth overtime (we’re somehow not done yet) Dennis, again, had the opportunity to put the Hawks up by four points with just 10.2 seconds left. Dennis made the first one but, again, missed the second free throw, leaving the Knicks with hope of a fifth overtime. Courtney Lee, off of the offensive rebound, managed to get a very decent look in the corner but missed the shot and the Hawks escape. But they were so fortunate, another missed free throw almost cost the Hawks and almost sent this game into a fifth overtime.

Dennis was understandably upset, saying postgame that he’d go to the gym to only shoot free throws:

“I’m just going to come in tomorrow and shoot free throws. It’s not going to happen again.” — Dennis Schröder

It was hard to watch the Hawks miss clutch free throw after clutch free throw miss. They were very fortunate that these missed free throws didn’t ultimately cost them the game, because that’s what we’d be talking about had the Hawks lost in 4OT.

Points in the paint differential

The Knicks were content in taking a lot of jump/three-point shots and it sure showed. The Knicks took 51 three-pointers and only scored 24 points in the paint compared to the Hawks’ 56. 

Part of the reason for this was that the Knicks took just 21 shots at the rim, making just nine.

The Hawks took 51 shots at the rim making 27 of those. People were bashing the Hawks for the fact they blocked just two of the 128 shots the Knicks took. Looking at the number of shots the Knicks took at the rim, that’s not entirely fair. The Knicks’ shot selection was part of the reason why that number was so low.

A career night in assists for two Hawks

Dennis Schröder dished out a career high 15 assists in 54 minutes of play last night while Tim Hardaway Jr. also dished a career high eight assists in 57 minutes played.

Dennis had a very up and down game despite this career night, he produced six of the Hawks’ 14 turnovers and there were some rough ones. Some of Schröder’s shot selections were also quite poor but I’ll give him credit for his toughness. He had a scary fall in the first overtime and he looked as though he was in pain but continued to keep playing.

Tim Hardaway Jr. — filling in for the injured Thabo Sefolosha in the starting lineup — scored 19 points and while he did shoot 0-of-9 from behind the arc but did get to the free throw line often, shooting 9-of-12 from the free throw line.

Season series over

This was Atlanta’s the fourth and final meeting with the Knicks this season, the Hawks winning the season series 3-1. These two teams sure played some entertaining and chippy games this season, and the Hawks emerge with the tiebreaker. This, ultimately, should not matter as these two teams are not close together in the standings. Unless the Hawks suffer extreme injuries and the Knicks find incredible form, these two teams will not finish the same record after 82 games.

Porzingis’ revenge

When Dwight Howard played with the Rockets last season he destroyed rookie Kristaps Pozignis with this dunk:

Porzingis swore he’d have his revenge one day, and on Sunday KP got his revenge…

“Yeah, I got him back. It didn’t feel too good for my backside, but I was glad I got that dunk.” — Kristaps Porzingis

A wedgie!

Philips Arena saw its first wedgie of the season after Hernangomez’s miss is putback and wedged between the rim and the backboard.

Shoutout to The Starters! Co-host Tas Melas was also in person at the arena to see this wedgie, making it all the better…

Up next

The Hawks (28-20) are back in action on Wednesday night, the first night of a back-to-back in which they’ll take on the Miami Heat in Florida.

Hawks quotes: The AJC via Chris Vivlamore
More Hawks from The AJC via Chris Vivlamore
Even more Hawks quotes: Peachtree Hoops via Kris Willis
Knicks quotes: The New York Times via Ray Giler

Graham Chapple

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