On Friday night against the Cavs, the Knicks were criticized for their pathetic defensive effort.
On Sunday night, the team answered prayers of their coaching staff and fans as they played their best defense of the season against a much more worthy opponent, defeating the Hawks 92-79.
Though the Knicks were without Chauncey Billups and key reserves Ronny Turiaf and Bill Walker, the team came together to shut down the Hawks, getting some clutch performances off the bench.
Though Amar'e Stoudemire led the way with 26 points, the real story (aside from the remarkable defense) was the boost the Knicks received from its reserves. Shawne Williams poured in 12 points while hitting four shots from long range, and also grabbed 6 rebounds.
Anthony Carter wowed his hometown crowd of Atlanta, hitting stifling three-point shots and a beautiful teardrop layup on his way to adding 10 points. Roger Mason Jr., playing a season-high 25 plus minutes, scored 5 points and blocked 2 shots.
The Knicks had something to prove, and the Hawks (who the team has developed a bit of a rivalry with this season after some chippy play) was the perfect opponent to do so against. The defense was phenomenal as the Knicks pestered their opponents all night long, forcing them to constantly throw up errant shots.
Despite coming away with the victory, Coach D'Antoni sat Carmelo Anthony the final 10 plus minutes of the game. Anthony had an off night, shooting just 6 of 18 on his way to 14 points. Nevertheless, it has to be a good feeling for this Knicks squad that they can rise above and win regardless of struggles from one of their stars.