‘When we work together, we’re pretty good’

Knicks Alec Burks Evan Fournier RJ Barrett with Trae Young chasing ball

The Knicks bounced back on the second night of a back-to-back, beating the Atlanta Hawks 99-90 on Saturday night and snapping their seven game win streak.

After the win, head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about what he saw from the team on a night that they were missing Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose, Nerlens Noel, and Taj Gibson. He credited the team’s effort for stepping up and playing together to get the job done.

“The thing is I thought, one that we played hard and that was the first thing we wanted to get established,” Thibodeau said. “They’re a terrific team and they missed some shots they normally make. I thought we were flying around pretty good. To win on the road against a team like this, you have to play hard on every possession. That requires everyone work together and when we work together, we’re pretty good.”

Thibodeau went on talk about what Alec Burks and Immanuel Quickley did to help the Knicks earn a victory. Burks led the team with 23 points in his first start of the season, while Quickley led the second unit with nine points and seven assists in 31 minutes. Rookies Quentin Grimes and Jericho Sims contributed strong minutes off the bench, and Obi Toppin had 13 points in 16 minutes of action.

“I thought they did a terrific job, I thought what Alec gives us is size,” Thibodeau said. “His ability to contain the ball and also his playmaking ability, but his shooting. When you add all that up it adds a lot. And then I thought our bench was terrific, I thought the way they played when they came in that was huge for us. I thought Jericho gave us really good minutes, I thought Quentin gave us good minutes, of course Quick, and Obi was terrific.

“I thought they got into a good rhythm. Evan had some big shots, he was in rhythm. RJ [Barrett] made some big plays for us. We needed everyone. Mitch [Robinson] was all over the place. Mitch and Jericho at the front of the rim, and it’s not easy because of the pressure that [Trae] Young puts on you.”

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Barrett went on to talk about the way Burks set the tone and what he thought of the bench unit’s strong performance.

“Told you, big money AB,” Barrett said. “He’s always calm and collected no matter what. He got us in our stuff, he took over in the third, he’s really good for us, he’s big time. It’s great that next man up mentality. Definitely having the guys that we do on the bench, we don’t miss a beat.”

Atlanta had been averaging 120 points per game during the win streak heading into Saturday night’s matchup, but New York held them to just 90 points. It was also the first time the two teams played since the playoffs, where the Knicks fell to the Hawks 4-1 in the first-round of the postseason. Although Thibodeau said he was more concerned about how the team would rebound after their loss to the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

“You can’t think about last year because every year is different,” Thibodeau said. “What I was concerned with was how we were going to bounce back from last night. We know there’s a long way to go and there’s a lot of work to be done. We’re learning a lot about our group, we’re figuring out rotations, so hopefully we can keep moving forward. It doesn’t get easier, the games keep coming.”


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