Studs and Duds from Knicks’ narrow victory over the Hawks

New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) drives past Atlanta Hawks center Clint Capela (15) in the first quarter at State Farm Arena
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

On the road, the New York Knicks possessed fantastic poise throughout the game, leading to a close win over the Atlanta Hawks. RJ Barrett sat out again due to migraines, but Julius Randle is getting better every game.

The Knicks’ ability to handle business in Barrett’s absence should be a confidence boost, seeing how good they are, compared to the now lesser teams of the Eastern Conference. They came out on top with a 116-114 win over the Hawks.

Studs: Julius Randle is HIM

Julius Randle let the world know he was getting back in shape last week as the narrative surrounding him was getting worse and worse by the day on social media. Recovering from an ankle injury, Randle’s motor and decision-making left much to be desired, but over the last five games he is averaging 25 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists per game. The Knicks are 4-1 in their last five, and Randle has been exceeding expectations.

Decisiveness and ingenuity on Randle’s behalf are allowing the Knicks a style of play unbecoming to Knicks fans as of late. Constant motion with the basketball and that extra pass mentality have seen Randle make brilliant plays in transition, as well as in half-court. 

Studs: Mitchell Robinson completes a scary frontcourt tandem

The frontcourt tandem of Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle has left opposing teams in disarray. Robinson’s incredible tenacity on offensive boards is what put the game’s momentum in the hands of the New York Knicks.

Mitchell is averaging a top-five best 11.7 rebounds per contest while also averaging over 5.8 offensive rebounds per game this season to lead the entire NBA. That’s more than any player in a season since 2000, per StatMuse. As Randle continues to improve, expect he and Robinson to be in the “best front court” conversations very soon. 

Studs: Immanuel Quickley with a bounce-back performance

Three Knicks players again scored 20 or more against the Atlanta Hawks. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, to no surprise, but it was Immanuel Quickley with the incredible bounce-back game following an unfamiliar 1/10 night from the floor in Boston. 

Quickley’s improvements in passing and shot-making ability make him a clear asset as he’s taking a leap before fans’ eyes that can’t be disputed. Quickley is currently averaging 40% on threes off the dribble this season, the best of his young career thus far. 

Duds: The Knicks struggled to defend the Hawks’ bench

The Hawks bench was essentially scoring at will in last night’s contest. Accumulating over half of the Hawks’ offense was the product of great defense by New York on the starters, constantly attacking Trae Young when opportunities showed. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey combined for 44 points to keep the game close throughout the second half. 

The Knick’s depth might have taken a slight hit as Quentin Grimes left the game with a wrist injury and did not return. Later diagnosed as a “bruised hand,” further evaluation will give a clear timetable for Grimes’ return. Grimes is one of the Knicks’ better defenders in the backcourt, but fans can expect to see more time from Divincenzo, as well as Quickley moving forward.

Takeaways from the Knicks’ win over the Hawks

The Knicks played phenomenally on Atlanta star Trae Young. Young was shooting 1/5 in the entire first half and finishing the game abysmal 4/12 and 0/4 from beyond the arc for 15 points. The game plan to allow anyone else but Young to score was effective and efficient.

Looking ahead, the Knicks continue their road tour and look to get a dominant win over the Washington Wizards Friday night, with RJ Barrett hopefully good to go. 

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