Written by William Lee
Pablo Prigioni returned for New York Monday night, it made no difference, Atlanta again would win, 91-85sweeping the home to home series.
Both teams played an extremely sloppy and ugly first half. Atlanta shot 32.4% from the field, and turned the ball over nine times in the first half. New York didn’t fare any better, shooting 42.5% in the first half, and committed eight turnovers. Kyle Krover, the difference maker Saturday night, scoring 27 points and drilling six-threes, missed a lot of good looks in the first half, going 1/8 from the field. Krover struggled all game, going 4/13 from the field, but would nail a dagger shot to clinch the game for the Hawks.
With the game tied at the half 38-38, New York came out to a good start, making back to back threes by Iman Shumpert and Tim Hardaway Jr. The run would get extended to 9-2 run on a Hardaway Jr. and-one on the following possession, extending the lead to 47-40.
Atlanta, a top three in threes made (10 threes made per game) early on in the season, would get going from downtown in the third quarter. The Knicks let Paul Millsap and Korver get loose, both knocking down a pair of threes, knocking down four straight from beyond the arc, going on an 14-2 run, giving the Hawks a 56-51 lead. Millsap had his way in the third quarter, scoring 12 points in the quarter, finishing the game with 19 points.
Point guard play is so crucial and important in the NBA, Prigioni had a real calming affect, orchestrating the offense early in the fourth, getting New York good looks. The Hawks were always within arm’s reach, when Prihioni was on the floor. But New York could never get over the hump, never able to take the lead, always within one possession.
With the score 72-67 and a little over seven minutes left in the game, two crucial substitutions occurred. Dennis Schroder was inserted into the game in favor of the Atlanta’s starting point guard Jeff Teague, who had an ineffective game. Derek Fisher in reaction would sub Prigioni out of the game in favor of the speedier Shane Larkin.
New York would continue to be within one possession largely due to Carmelo Anthony, who scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter. But without Prigioni directing the offense, Anthony had to work extremely hard in isolation situations to earn all those points late in the fourth quarter.
Late in the fourth quarter, Schroder would be personally responsible for a 6-0 run that put the game out of reach for New York, first handing out an assist to the aforementioned Korver dagger, then strolling into the lane for two consecutive layups. Schroder put Atlanta up 81-74 with a minute remaining in the game. New York put up a valiant effort prolonging the game, but the Hawks would walk away with a 91-85 victory.