The slide continues for the Atlanta Hawks who again fought to the end but came up short in a 107-101 loss to the New York Knicks. Atlanta continued its recent trend of falling behind early only to try and dig themselves out of the hole late. Atlanta has now trailed by double digits in each of the last five games. They were able to come all the way back and win two of those, but the comebacks are taxing and they ultimately ran out of gas on Tuesday.
"Give New York credit, individually and collectively a lot of plays were made,"Mike Budenholzer said after the game. "We dug ourselves a hole to start the third quarter. We have to play better for more of the 48 minutes. We have to make less mistakes for more of the 48 minutes. Otherwise, you'll find yourselves with big deficits and big holes. We can't put ourselves there. It takes a lot of energy and a lot of fight to come back, which I credit our guys for fighting and competing. But we have to better for more of the 48 minutes."
It is almost like a broken record at this point. It seems Budenholzer has been talking about the need for his team to play a complete game for the entire season. It is a problem that has hampered this group since the early part of the season save for a couple of stretches.
"That's a little draining," Al Horford said when asked about coming from behind only to fall short. "It's frustrating because I feel like we are playing hard. We're doing some good things out there but we keep having mental lapses as a group, forgetting assignments, little things in order to win. It's hard, you have to be able to do those things consistently.
That statement by Horford again represents the 2016 season for the Atlanta Hawks well. Lapses here and there have proven costly and that is why this team has struggled to really find their footing.
"I thought we were going to win the game, and I felt good about it," Horford said. "I felt like we just needed a stop, and score on the other end. Our group fought hard, but they made more plays than we did."
Dennis Schroder returns to rotation
After a two-game absence, Dennis Schroder returned to the team's rotation as he checked in midway through the first quarter replacing Jeff Teague. Schroder ended up playing 25 minutes and was on the court for the team down the stretch. He finished with seven points, four rebounds and eight assists while going 3-for-8 from the field.
"I just try to be the best teammate and try to compete every time I get out there to help my team win," Schroder said after the game. "I try to bring the energy and try to win games."
"I felt great tonight. I just tried to come out and be competitive, be aggressive on both ends of the court."
Schroder wasn't the only new addition to the Hawks' rotation on Tuesday. Tim Hardaway Jr saw his first action since November playing 12 minutes off the bench and finishing with three points on 1-for-3 shooting. Hardaway replaced Lamar Patterson who was a DNP in the wing rotation.
Knicks use size and strength to their advantage
In Sunday's loss in New York, the Knicks hurt Atlanta in transition. The Hawks did a better job of shoring that area up on Tuesday but New York's size and strength inside were the difference in the game. Carmelo Anthony was quiet on Sunday but was the focal point in Tuesday's game finishing with 23 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Arron Afflalo had another nice game with 23 points of his own on 9-for-16 shooting.
"Those guys make tough shots for a living," Kent Bazemore said when asked about drawing the defensive assignment against guys like Anthony and Afflalo. "That's exactly what they did tonight. Carmelo was huge for them down the stretch. That's what he does. If the game is close, he's that guy they can give the ball to and he'll put the ball in the basket for them."
Rookie Kristaps Porzingis finished with a double-double of his own with 17 points and 11 rebounds. New York ended the game with a 46-36 advantage in points in the paint.