The Hawks erased a 15-point first-half deficit to earn a much-need victory Saturday night by downing the Knicks 103-96.
Kyle Korver led the Hawks with a game-high 27 points, including six 3-pointers. The Hawks also got double-figure scoring from Jeff Teague (19), DeMarre Carroll (12), Paul Millsap (11) and Dennis Schroder (11).
The victory came a night after the Hawks lost at the Hornets in double overtime.
Here are five observations from the game:
1. The Hawks came out like they had lost in double overtime the previous night. They had just six assists in the first half. They allowed the Knicks 32- and 29-point quarters. There must have been one heck of a halftime speech.
“I think it was just energy and a different mentality to be honest,” Korver said. “We came out and played like we lost in double overtime the night before. Coach really challenged us at halftime and guys responded. That’s what we needed.”
Talk about offense all you want but the Hawks are going to go as far as their defense takes them. That’s all coach Mike Budenholzer wanted to talk about following the game. The Hawks defense was better in the second half and that was the difference.
2. Clearly, the Hawks plan was to throw as many bodies at Knicks star Carmelo Anthony as possible. They started with Paul Millsap and followed with Mike Scott (for a short time), Thabo Sefolosha and DeMarre Carroll. Anthony scored 14 first-quarter points on 6 of 10 shooting. The Hawks held him to six points the rest of the game on 2 of 10 shooting. Three of those points came on a 3-pointer with 23.2 seconds left and the Hawks up by eight points.
“We were just being aggressive – fronting him, denying him the ball,” Millsap said. “We know he just came off a back-to-back and the more we could make him work the harder it was going to be on him.”
3. Dennis Schroder is clearly the backup point guard at this point. Budenholzer likes the luxury of three point guards. However, Schroder excelled in his 20 minutes Saturday. He had career-highs with 11 points and five steals. In the last three games since getting the majority of the backup minutes, Schroder has averaged 10.0 points, 1.3 assists, 1.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals in 14.1 minutes.
“My confidence, as I’ve told you, is through the roof,” Schroder said. “Coach trusts me now. I try to do everything on defense first and help the team get the energy going.”
4. Sefolosha continues to struggle with his offensive game. He had eight points Saturday on 3 of 9 shooting. All three baskets were in the paint. For the season, Sefolosha is just 5 of 23 (.217) from the field. He will continue to get minutes because of his defensive ability.
5. Here is your stat of the day. The Hawks leading shot blockers this season? Al Horford and Kyle Korver with seven each. Yes, Kyle Korver. The sharp-shooter had three blocked shots Saturday. Millsap and Sefolosha are second in blocks with four apiece.