The New York Knicks got bullied by the Atlanta Hawks

New York Knicks, Dennis Smith Jr.

There’s been plenty of speculation if the New York Knicks team can make the playoffs this season.  After last night’s performance, it is clear that they are not even close.

The Knicks were playing careless, lackadaisical basketball up until the middle of the fourth quarter.  It was an exciting ending but the Knicks fell short to the Atlanta Hawks 100-96.

Dennis Smith Jr. played is first game of the preseason, but he didn’t look healthy at all.  Smith Jr. has been dealing with lower back injury for weeks.  He looked sluggish to begin the game with two quick fouls, lackluster defense and an iffy improved shot. He was chasing around Trae Young more then anything.  Smith Jr. should rest that back until he’s actually 100% because he was far from that.

The other point guard battling for time, Frank Ntilikina, played well defensively.  He was able to shut down Young in the second half with his 7-foot-wide wingspan.  Offensively, he struggled and didn’t appeared confident in his shot after missing a few.  Ntilikina made two big plays down the stretch to get the Knicks in striking distance, but it wasn’t enough.

The point guard will be interesting as both guards didn’t separate themselves from one another last night.  Elfrid Payton did not play last night per Coach David Fizdale’s decision.  He is still in the mix for time as well.

RJ Barrett, Julius Randle and Marcus Morris were the main stand outs for the Knicks.  Barrett continues to improve in some aspect every game.  Barrett even ran point and the offensive appeared to have more pep in its step when he did.  He was able to push the ball up the floor and had the offense in a good rhythm.

With the point guard position is total question, fans wouldn’t be surprised if Fizdale went more with Barrett at point and Ntilikina over Smith Jr. while his back heals.  Both can split time running point.

Randle continued his solid preseason.  He hasn’t blown fans out of the water with his play, but it’s there.  Randle can do a little bit of everything and is very aggressive driving and having the ball in the low-post, which is great for the Knicks.  Morris continues to make scoring look effortless for the Knicks, but he seemed off energy wise last night as well.

Kevin Knox also played well coming off the bench last night.  He shoot it well and had good court vision in transition. Last season, he would have drove into multiple defenders.  Last night, he was able to do that but finally find the open man.  Good progress so far for Knox.

Despite the few positives, there was plenty more negatives.  The Knicks boxing out was the most frustrating.  They were not getting a man and the Hawks had a field day on the offensive glass, 16 offensive rebounds.  Also, the Knicks, and even the fans, were out of it last night.  There was a lack of enthusiasm and energy from both.  The Knicks bench didn’t seem like they were in the game either.  It’s the preseason we know, but still.

The Hawks dominated the Knicks in all aspects of the game last evening.  Literally every aspect, field goal and 3-point percentage, assists, all rebounds, turnovers, fast break points and points off turnovers, etc.  Stats don’t mean much in this preseason game as it was tough to watch for the Knicks.  These dogs that were suppose to do the bullying looked like a bunch of poodles last night.

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