By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor
Paul Millsap’s game-high 22 points helped lead the Atlanta Hawks to an 117-98 home win over the New York Knicks on Saturday night at Philips Arena.
The victory increased Atlanta’s (20-12) winning streak to six games while New York (14-17) has now lost three straight.
The Hawks trailed 63-60 at halftime, allowing the Knicks to shoot over 65 percent in the first half. Atlanta outscored New York 57-35 in the second half.
“I think in the second half, our defense and activity put us in a good place,” Hawks’ coach Mike Budenholzer said. “The offense was probably decent, particularly from the second quarter on. Hopefully the second half, it felt like we made it a lot more difficult. I think it was reflective and we have to find a way to do that from the beginning to the end of the game.”
Atlanta finished the contest shooting 53.4 percent from the field with four double-figure scorers including MIllsap who had seven assists and a team-high seven rebounds. Al Horford scored 19 points and dished out seven assists while Jeff Teague scored 17. Off the bench, Mike Scott scored a season-high 18 points while Dennis Schroder had 10 points with six assists.
“I think we did a much better job defensively in the second half,” Horford said. “We made sure they had to earn everything they got..”
New York’s Carmelo Anthony scored a team-high 18 points and grabbed a game-high 12 rebounds for a double-double. Other double-figure scorers for the Knicks included Lance Thomas (12), Derrick WIlliams (12), Langston Galloway (11) and Arron Afflalo. Jose Calderon scored eight points with a game-high eight assists while Kristaps Porzingis and Robin Lopez each scored nine points.
“I thought they were able to sustain what they put up in the first half and we couldn’t,” New York coach Derek Fisher said. “We started the third quarter to come out and try to take control of the game right way and we couldn’t match their speed, ball movement and the way they played offensively.”
Lopez added that “they do a great job of getting into the teeth of the defense, moving the ball, getting everybody involved and making everybody a threat.”
Kent Bazemore’s three-pointer from the left corner made the score 71-68 in favor of Atlanta with 7:56 left in the third quarter. It was the Hawks’ first lead of the contest. Atlanta took an 87-75 lead into the fourth quarter. Bazemore scored six points in the contest.
Atlanta outscored New York 30-23 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
The Knicks jumped out to an early 12-2 lead in the first quarter. New York continued the strong play and took a 32-22 lead into the second quarter. The Knicks shot over 63 percent in the first quarter, making three out of six three-pointer attempts. Atlanta made 40 percent of its first-quarter shot attempts.
Atlanta showed improved form in the second quarter, outscoring New York 38-31 during the time frame and trailed 63-60 at halftime. Teague and Millsap each had 11 points for the Hawks who shot 53 percent from the field through the first two quarters.
The Knicks shot over 65 percent in the first half led by a game-high 12 points from Anthony. Thomas had 10 points while Lopez scored nine. The 63 points were the second-most the Hawks have allowed in the first half with only Minnesota’s 72 points earlier this season on Nov. 9 being more.