Crispy’s Pre-Game Notebook: Knicks at Hawks

NEW YORK KNICKS (16-14)

  • The Knicks, sitting at 5th in the East and a half-game behind Charlotte, begin an important three-game road trip in Atlanta, followed by visits to New Orleans and Houston.
  • New York is the only +.500 team in the NBA that is minus in point differential, which raises some eyebrows. They’ve given up almost 113 points per game in their last four contests, allowing their opponents to shoot .475% from the field.
  • Jeff Hornacek addressed the need for better defense today, telling me at shootaround, “We’ve got to be alert. We need to get the Hawks out of their rhythm. If we let them move the ball wherever they want, and run what they want, Atlanta will probably beat us.”

Jeff Hornacek discusses how the Knicks have played on the road and the need to communicate more on defense.

  • Lance Thomas added, “We need to take pride in individual on-ball defense. We need to trust each other and have better weak side awareness.”
  • Joakim Noah went further in elaborating during our sit down: “Nobody should be happy with our defense. We need to have better communication, follow the game plan and get on the same page.” Noah added that it’s too early to look at the standings, and said, “(our) focus is on getting better and finding ways to win games, the results will take care of the standings.”

Joakim Noah talks about how the Knicks have played on defense and the potential he sees in the unit.

  • New York Knick Knacks:
  1. Knicks are 8th in free-throw %, shooting at a 78.9% clip.
  2. New York is 3rd in offensive rebounds, tallying 12.1 a game.
  3. Knicks rank 3rd in blocks, rejecting six per tilt.

ATLANTA HAWKS (15-16)

  • Attendance is down for the inconsistent Hawks this year, averaging 15,738 in the 19,120 capacity Phillips Arena.
  • The Hawks have gone from 60 wins to 48 in the past two years and are under .500 having suffered eight losses by 10 or more points this year. To which Dwight Howard responded, “We have to focus on the next game and wash away the big losses. You don’t allow it to kill your emotion. Our effort and intensity have to be the same every night. It’s hasn’t been that way.”
  • Howard — the active double-double leader with 632 – is only one of nine players to average a double-double in his first 12 years in the NBA. The Atlanta center trails only Wilt Chamberlain with 14 straight years of double-doubles and Elvin Hayes and Moses Malone, who did it 13 straight years.
  • The Atlanta native returned home this year on a four-year $70 million deal and is happy to be back, saying “I enjoy being home with family and being able to see grandma and grandpa is an added plus. Win, lose or draw these people care about you, that’s all you can ask for.”
  • Atlanta Hawk Highs:
  1. Atlanta rank 5th in steals, with 8.7 rips per game.
  2. The Hawks hold a record of 230-104 at the Phillips Arena since 2008-2009, but are only 7-7 while defending their home court this year.