In a rematch against the Atlanta Hawks, the Knicks hope to redeem themselves with a win, breaking their four-game losing streak. After impressive victories over the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Charlotte Hornets, Carmelo Anthony fell into an atrocious shooting performance for three consecutive games, shooting 8-for-23 from the field against the Wizards, 5-for-21 against the Pistons, and 5-for 20 against the Nets, missing 46 shots altogether.
In the Knicks’ first meeting with the Hawks at Philips Arena Saturday evening, it appeared that Anthony’s shooting woes had come to an end as he shot 6-for-10 from the field, ending the first half with 14 points and 8 rebounds, leading his team to a 13-point lead over Atlanta at halftime - and that was the end of the Melo's comeback. He shot 2-for-10 the remainder of the game, only adding six more points and one rebound to his final stat line.
The Knicks’ third quarter of doom settled in quickly, as they allowed the Hawks to outscore them 27-13. They also outscored the Knicks 28-8 at the costless throw line, with the Knicks committing 29 fouls in defensive attempts.
The decision came down to a close fourth quarter in an exchange of baskets between the two competitors, but the lack of defensive stops along with a draining three-point shot by Kyle Korver ultimately led to the Knicks' defeated morale and a 103-96 victory for the Atlanta Hawks. Korver led Atlanta with 27 points on 7-for-12 shooting. Paul Millsap finished with a double-double consisting of 11 points and 13 rebounds, and DeMarre Carroll added 12 points to secure the win.
With a lack of depth at the point guard position, as veterans Pablo Prigioni and Jose Calderon continue to sit out with injuries, Coach Fisher continued to make adjustments to the starting lineup. Shane Larkin, who was impressive in his unexpected debut as the Knicks' starting point guard, returned to the lineup after coming off the bench during the Knicks and Nets matchup - perhaps to counter Jeff Teague’s speed. However, Teague finished with 19 points and five rebounds, outplaying Larkin who recorded nine points and four rebounds.
We also saw another rare start from Tim Hardaway Jr. at the shooting guard position, bumping Shumpert to the three and Anthony back to the four. Hardaway Jr. finished with 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting. Stoudemire, who has been playing exceptionally well, contributed 14 points and nine rebounds, and Shumpert, who fouled out in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, finished with an impressive 19 points and seven rebounds.
It looks like Anthony needs to stop trying to put the team on his back and get his mind back in the triangle, but is it the system or just poor performance? Only time will tell, but the Knicks need to find a way to secure their leads and finish their games strong. They return home to Madison Square Garden Monday night, in what they hope will be the end of a dismal string of losses.