An explosive transition game from the Knicks, led by Tim Hardaway Jr., earned the ‘Bockers their first win of the season, defeating the Atlanta Hawks 126–107.

On Wednesday, the Knicks caught fire in the second quarter en route to a dominant 126-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

The game got off to a slow start for both sides. Such a slow start, that a fan hit a $10,000 half-court shot before the Knicks even made their first field goal. A sloppy back-and-forth first quarter that ended with the Hawks leading 24-23 soon took a drastic turn. From the start of the second, the Knicks dominated every facet of the game, and showed no signs of slowing down.

Led by Tim Hardaway Jr., the Knicks caught fire in the second, putting up a franchise-record 49 points to give the Knicks a staggering 72-49 lead heading into the locker room. Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks with 22 points, showing an incredible turnaround after missing his first four attempts. As a unit, the Knicks went from shooting 30 percent in the first quarter to over 50 percent for the half. The first half saw Kevin Knox’s first career basket as a Knick, 11 of 12 active players got action on the court, and 11 fast-break points in one half, which was well above the Knicks average of 8.6 PER GAME last season. It was evident that the youth movement was in full effect, with the team showing energy, passion, and speed.

In the second half, the Knicks consistently maintained a lead close to 20 points in a 126-107 opening night victory.

Let’s take a look at some highlights from the game.


Hardaway Catches Fire

After missing his first four attempts of the game, THJ began to take the ball to the basket, sparking an enormous 16-point second quarter. Last season, Hardaway Jr. struggled with his shot throughout the first few games of the season. In the first minutes of the game, it seemed that he was heading down a similar path, missing his first four shots. It was reassuring for all Knicks fans to see Timmy catch fire in the second and take over offensively. THJ maintained his momentum into the second half, finishing the game 10-of-22 from the field with a team-high 31 points. In the absence of KP, THJ stepped up and proved he’s capable to be the leading scorer on this Knicks unit in game one.

Tim Hardaway Sr. approves.

Trier Looks Legit

The undrafted rookie continued his stellar preseason play into the first game of the season, dropping 15 points in 26 minutes of play. Trier show his explosive offensive ability, proving to be a complete mismatch against almost all defenders in isolation. Trier amped up the crowd with an emphatic, posterizing one-handed dunk to end the third quarter. It looks like Trier will continue to be one of the most exciting young players to watch on the Knicks this season, especially on the offensive side of the ball.

Two Double-Doubles

If you’re familiar with the Knicks unit of last year, it is a common occurrence to see Enes Kanter in the double-double club, as he averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds per contest last season.  Kanter had a strong showing tonight, posting 16 points and 11 rebounds while also showcasing a more impressive defensive performance. We know what Enes is capable of doing on the offensive side of the ball. Whether it be drawing loose-ball fouls, getting second chances for the team, or finishing down low, Kanter is a force on the offensive end. It will be important to see how he improves defensively this season, which seems to be slightly better after game one.

Noah Vonleh joined Kanter in the double-double club, posting 12 points and 10 rebounds while going a perfect 5-for-5 from the field. Vonleh was a big impact player for the Knicks in the preseason and continued to showcase this in game one. He also led the Knicks in plus-minus, posting a +22 during his time on the court.

Rough Shooting Performances from Lottery Picks

It was a tough debut for the highly touted lottery picks, Trae Young and Kevin Knox, who struggled with their shots from the start of the game. Young shot 5-for-14 from the field and 1-of-5 from deep, finishing the game with 14 points. Knox shot 4-of-16 from the field and 1-for-5 from three to finish the night with 10 points. It’s no surprise that both rookies shot so poorly in their opening game. The pregame jitters of your first NBA start are electrified even more when it’s happening at the World’s Most Famous Arena. Although Knox struggled with his shot throughout the preseason, it appeared that this was a result of him trying to do too much rather than a mechanical issue. I wouldn’t worry about Knox at this point, as his shot will begin to fall when he starts to settle in.

No matter what, it was an exciting night for Knox, who made his debut and scored first points in the NBA:

Hezonja Lights up the Fourth

With the Knicks already holding a 20-plus point lead, many may have missed the offensive display that Hezonja put on in the fourth quarter. Mario finished the game with 15 points in 19 minutes, with 12 of them coming in the fourth quarter. It was great to see Hezonja find the bottom of the basket, as he looks to be a reliable option off the bench for the remainder of the season. 

Ntilikina Shows Flashes of Potential…Still Has Room For Improvement 

Although he only finished the game with 5 points, shooting a bleak 2-for-7 from the field, I was optimistic about the performance of Frank Ntilikina. He continued to showcase his defensive prowess, locking up his opponents and collecting three steals in the contest. Ntilikina showed some nifty moves and improved confidence, yet I’m still left looking for more from him. Expect Ntilikina to continue to take more chances and gain confidence when his shot begins to fall.

It was a true team effort from the Knicks tonight, who clicked on all cylinders in a historic opening night.

This is the type of aggression that Ntilikina needs to play with. He’s shown flashes off this potential, but has yet to consistently put it together.

What’s Next:  Following a win over the Hawks in their first game of the season, the Knicks will head crosstown to Brooklyn on Friday for a contest against the Nets. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center. The Nets dropped their first game of the season to the Detroit Pistons, 103-100.