Knicks dominate 101-87 against Hawks, with no 8 players (including Young and Gallinari)
The New York Knicks easily win the first match of Christmas Day 101-87, overtaking the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden, deprived of the Covid protocol of 8 players, including Trae Young and Danilo Gallinari. Tom Thibodeau’s team has always been in front, even broadly (+21), and has never given the impression of being able to undergo a partial that could somehow reopen the match. Decisive the stars Julius Randle and Kemba Walker, who signed the 3rd triple double of his career.
Defense, protection of the iron (Mitchell Robinson with 5 blocks) and pressure on the perimeter. New York immediately tried to stifle any action or play that could instill confidence in opponents, already enormously limited by absences. In attack the ball moved well, the bottom of the retina as well and on repeated occasions, especially from three points, and the more qualitative players did not block the performance. Julius Randle (25 points, 12 rebounds) set his pace, stopping the ball less and playing more instinctively, and Kemba Walker (10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists) was engaging and made New York more unpredictable. The triple double (7th player in the history of Christmas Day to do it), long desired by Garden when only one bounce was missing from his archiving (captured about 6 ‘from the siren), tells a lot about his impact on the team. Ready for the moment. Positive, also for the whole environment, which gave him a standing ovation at the exit from the field in the 4th period, his reinstatement in the rotations. The true key factor of the game was the three-point shot: the Knicks scored 20 (out of 50 attempts) with Randle (6/9) and Grimes (5/12) on fire from the bow. New York did everything it took to bring this game home. He had to win it, especially considering the absences of his opponents, and he wanted to win it before the eyes of the American people, who expect pure entertainment on Christmas day. Obi Toppin’s wonderful dunk in the open field at the end of the 4th period is a kind of symbol of this concept. Total domination for the boys of coach Thibodeau.
Atlanta returned to play on Christmas Day after 32 years from the last time, dated 1989 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but doing it with 8 players included in the Covid protocol, including Young and Gallinari, was not at all easy. A team accustomed to playing an attacking basketball cannot do without at the same time a good part of those who usually know how to make a basket (Young, Gallinari, Huerter and Williams) or in any case create a game. The Hawks tried, no doubt about it, but they didn’t get much beyond the first pick and roll and some transitions. Too modest to seriously threaten the Knicks (even this year’s, a little unsure of themselves) at Garden. Delon Wright did well (20 points), even if we all expected with a certain sense of exaltation some magic from “Born Ready” Lance Stephenson (2 points in 14 ‘). A bit of disappointment remained but there will be other opportunities, hopefully.
The Knicks’ first half was tough and bold, driven by the “real” Randle (14 points and 9 rebounds) and a precious Walker (8 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists). New York immediately punishes the frailties of the opponents with a 19-3 run (7/7 shooting) which initially seems to guide the game in a clear way. Atlanta, inspired by Wright (11 points and 4 steals), reacts and mends the tear, mitigating the disadvantage in double figures. However, Fournier thinks about it with 13 points in the 2nd quarter alone to push his team to +10 at the interval (61-51). New York closes the 1st half with 56% shooting and 48% from three (12 triples). Thibodeau’s team starts the 3rd period badly in attack but goes back to +16 (79-63) and extends their hands on the game again. The last 12 ‘seal the success of the Knicks, never really been in question.
New York: Randle 25 (9/15, 6/9 of three, 1/4 tl), Grimes 15, Fournier 15. Rebounds: Randle 12. Assists: Walker 12.
Atlanta: Wright 20 (8/13, 4/5 of three), Collins 20, Mays 11. Rebounds: Capela 9. Assist: Dieng 5.
December 25, 2021 (change December 25, 2021 | 20:40)
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