Despite a nice first quarter from the Knicks, they faltered late to Dennis Schroder and the Atlanta Hawks.

The Knicks started out hot in this one scoring 39 points in the first quarter while shooting 76 percent from the field. Courtney Lee led the charge in the first quarter, scoring 13 points on 5-5 shooting. When Kristaps Porzingis hit the bench, the Knicks struggled a bit, allowing the Hawks to creep back into the game. By the time halftime hit, the Knicks maintained a 67-59 lead. The third quarter did not do them any favors. Thanks to Dennis Schroder, the Hawks outscored the Knicks by 11 to nab a 89-86 lead going into the fourth. Threes were the story of the fourth, with Atlanta knocking down a ton in the waning moments. The Knicks fell apart during the final period, failing to knock down anything from the floor, and lost the contest 116-104.

A few thoughts:

  • Jeff Hornacek left his second unit in too long tonight. Every bench player was a minus, with Doug McDermott, Lance Thomas, and Willy Hernangómez leading the way at a -12, -11, and -10 respectively. Not having Enes Kanter certainly hurt the Knicks tonight, but either way, the bench unit was a big reason why the Knicks let this one slip away.
  • We haven’t seen it often, but Porzingis let the officiating get to his head tonight. During the fourth quarter, he picked up a technical foul, and it seemed like he was looking for a call from the refs every time he took a shot.
  • The Knicks got a great performance from Lee, Porzingis, and Tim Hardaway Jr. in the first half, with the trio accounting for 48 of the Knicks 67 points. Jarrett Jack had eight assists, continuing to show that he can facilitate the offense. Jack rarely looks for his own shot, but so many of his assists come at the right time for his teammates. He does an excellent job of finding everyone at the exact spot that they want the basketball. The advanced stats have not been kind to him, but sometimes we need to move past that and realize that the impact for a guy like him goes beyond the numbers. That being said, he was toasted tonight by Schroder, so we know where his shortcomings lie. We all want to see Frank Ntilikina’s role continue to increase, but Jack is just a band-aid anyways.
  • How big has Courtney Lee been for this team? He’s exactly the type of player that good teams need around. We have no idea what peaks or valleys this team will reach as the season progresses, but Lee has been an incredible stabilizing force for this squad. His shot looks confident, and after the scolding from Jeff Hornacek, his defense has been excellent. Before the season I would’ve liked to see the Knicks deal him. Not anymore.
  • The Knicks were incapable of defending Dennis Schroder in the third quarter. He eviscerated New York’s perimeter defense en route to a 26-point performance, propelling the Hawks to victory. He’s also a huge flopper that falls to the ground to get a call.
  • This ended up not mattering, but is still impressive:

  • With Enes Kanter out of the lineup, we got a cameo from our old friend Willy Hernangómez, and it was a mixed bag. He looked good in the first quarter, putting up six points and three boards, but had some egregious missteps both defensively and offensively as the game wore on. Rust could have something to do with it, but it wasn’t good for his prospects of playing serious minutes moving forward.
  • Kristaps Porzingis, for all of his greatness, does a poor job defending the three-point line. He often searches for the rim and the block so often that he ends up leaving his man wide open for three. We know how good he is at defending around the rim, but he also needs to be more aware whenever his opposition can shoot from deep.
  • Frank pulling his best LeBron impression:

  • I’ve long said that if Tim Hardaway Jr. just plays a bit more within himself, he’ll see his percentages tick up and he’ll be vastly more useful for this team. He did that in the first half, but had some bad mistakes in the second half. It’s always going to be a bit of a roller coaster ride, but let’s just hammer home some of the minor mistakes to Hardaway Jr., coaching staff.
  • Parting thought:

Ultimately, the defense from the Knicks in the final three quarters ended up burying them. The strong first quarter was quickly forgotten as the Knicks scored just 37 points in the second half. The studs were good, not great, and the bench was awful, leading to a disappointing loss in Atlanta. A tough affair awaits tomorrow night in Houston, so the Knicks will likely be looking at a 10-9 record heading back to the Garden on Monday to face Portland.

This feels like one of those games that we’ll look back on and be supremely frustrated that the Knicks lost.