Five observations from the Hawks’ 108-107 victory over the Knicks Monday in a Martin Luther King Jr. matinee.
1. It was almost the costliest of defensive lapses. Down by one, the Knicks' Derrick Rose had a near-clear path to the basket after two Hawks defenders closed on Carmelo Anthony on the game's final possession.
Paul Millsap was able to block Rose at the basket with 5.9 seconds remaining.
“We said that’s our new pick-and-roll defense,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “Let the guy drive right down the middle to Paul and let him block it. There was a bit of confusion. They ran a play where there is a slip. The slip sometimes creates that confusion. It’s good execution on their part and poor on ours. Also, we’ve got to cover for each other and be there for each other. Paul did that and we were able to fend them off on the other two chances they got.”
Yes, those two more chances. Anthony missed with 3.9 seconds left and Joakim Noah missed with 2.0 seconds left before Dennis Schroder chased down a rebound.
“It was a defensive lapse,” Millsap said. “Rightfully so. Melo has hit some big shots. If you are going to guard anybody, send two guys at him. I saw it and made sure I was there at the basket.
2. Schroder hit the game-winner on a 3-pointer with 22.4 seconds left. The shot came after a number of passes and failed attempts to get the ball to Tim Hardaway Jr. or Millsap. Kris Humphries got the ball inside and kicked it out to Schroder for the open look.
“We wanted to get Tim or Paul the shot,” Schroder said. “Tim was hot in the fourth quarter and Paul is just the guy who takes big shots. But we kept moving. It didn’t work out like we wanted but we kept moving, attacking, kicking it out and that’s how we created the open shot. … I shot it with confidence.”
Schroder finished with a team-high 28 points.
3. Welcome back to Madison Square Garden. Hardaway torched his former team for 20 points, including 16 in the second half. He had nine fourth-quarter points. He had six straight points after the Hawks went down by five points, 95-90. He also hit a key 3-pointer.
“We knew they were going to make their run,” Hardaway said. “The second group does a great job of creating intensity. We knew they were going to make their run and we had to counter.”
It was the ninth 20-plus point game of the season for Hardaway as he continues to play meaningful minutes down the stretch of games.
4. Budenholzer said it simply concerning Humphries. "I thought Kris Humphries was unbelievable," he said.
Humphries finished with a season-high 14 points, including a 3-for-3 game from 3-point range. He also had seven rebounds.
The Hawks needed every one was they played without Dwight Howard.
The Knicks outrebounded the Hawks, 53-36, with Noah having 17 rebounds.Budenholzer knew his team was short-handed.
“They are second or third in the league in rebound percentage,” Budenholzer said. “We kind of went with a small group. They did also. That was a huge concern coming into the game. The first possession of the game, they got three offensive rebounds or three shots. The last possession of the game, they got three shots. Throughout the game the game it felt like they got three shots.”
5. The Hawks went with an unconventional starting lineup as they rested Howard on the second of back-to-back afternoon games. Hardaway started in his place as the Hawks announced a lineup of two guards and three forwards.
Budenholzer said the Hawks predetermined to rest Howard.
“A one o’clock game on a back-to-back,” Budenholzer said. “Trying to think big picture about how we can make sure he’s feeling great and healthy at the end of the year and into the playoffs.”
The Hawks were without Tiago Splitter (calf), Mike Muscala (left ankle sprain) and DeAndre Bembry (personal).