Atlanta Hawks

Hawks turn in gritty performance in win over Knicks

The Atlanta Hawks turned in a gritty performance Wednesday night grinding out a 102-98 win in overtime against the New York Knicks in a game that was at times chippy and mired with technical fouls. While their offense misfired for most of the night, Atlanta found a way to pull out a much needed win at home and hopefully gives them something to build upon.

“I thought our defense in the second half, our activity, just flying around, created some turnovers, created some difficult possessions for them….allowed us to pick up our energy and get a little bit of rhythm,” Mike Budenholzer told reporters after the game. “It still wasn’t a pretty game offensively for either team.”

Atlanta shot just 36 percent for the game and limited the Knicks to just 37 percent shooting. New York played most of the game without All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony who was ejected with 3:08 remaining in the second quarter after replay showed he delivered a shot to the head of Thabo Sefolosha while battling for position on a rebound.

Even without Anthony, it took a strong effort offensively from Dennis Schröder and another big game off the glass from Dwight Howard for Atlanta to secure the victory. Schröder carried Atlanta’s offense once again finishing with 27 points and five assists in almost 40 minutes of action.

“Dennis has the ball in his hands on a lot of our offensive possessions,” Budenholzer said when asked about his point guard’s performance in overtime. “He’s great finding people.”

Eleven of Schröder’s 27 points came in the second quarter as he helped to keep the Hawks within striking distance.

“I just try to help the team win games and try to lead the team,” Schröder said of his big second quarter. “Whatever it takes, I try to do it. I try to help my teammates win.”

Overall the season has been an up and down affair for the Hawks but Schröder’s progression has been one of the bright spots. He has upped his scoring average each month while cutting his turnovers. More and more he is turning into the go-to player that Atlanta relies on down the stretch of games.

“Coach says every time that being a point guard is the toughest job,” Schröder added. “I’m 23 years old and he’s putting the pressure on me. I think I’m ready and I just try to do the best I can for the team. Today was great. Everybody was on the same page.”

Howard also came up big for Atlanta finishing with 16 points and a game-high 22 rebounds. He was a big factor early and even knocked down some clutch free throws at the end.

“We had to work hard, continue to play great defense, hit some tough shots,” Howard said of the victory. “They did some great things without Melo. Porzingis had a great game. D. Rose was getting in the paint and causing havoc. He’s pretty good at making those tough shots in the paint.”

Porzingis finished with 24 points and eight rebounds and had a chance to tie the game at the end of overtime when he was fouled shooting a three-pointer with the Knicks trailing by three. However, he missed the first attempt and then missed the last one on purpose but was whistled for a lane violation on the play.

Rose led the Knicks with 26 points and six assists but was an inefficient 9 for 28 from the field and had a costly turnover late in overtime that helped seal the win for Atlanta.

“We just got a good win,” Howard added. “It was scrappy. We did a lot of good things on the floor. The defense was pretty good down the stretch. We have to continue to get better.”

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