NBA Basketball

Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Atlanta 21 30 15 21 87
New York 30 31 20 20 101
9:00 AM PT10:00 AM MT11:00 AM CT12:00 PM ET17:00 GMT1:00 10:00 AM MST12:00 PM EST21:00 UAE18:0012:00 ET11:00 AM CT15:00 , December 25, 2021
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York  Attendance: 19,812

Depleted Hawks visit Knicks and red-hot Kemba Walker

According to STATS
According to STATS

Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks

  1. The Knicks have lost six straight Christmas Day games, tied for the second-longest Christmas losing streak in NBA history behind the SuperSonics, who lost 11 in a row from 1967 to 2007.
  2. The Knicks have gone 26 games since they last won two in a row. Their streak of 26 consecutive games without winning back-to-back games is the second-longest active streak in the NBA behind the Pistons (62).
  3. Kemba Walker had 44 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and seven three-pointers made in his last game. He was the first player in NBA history to reach all of those numbers in a game without turning the ball over.
  4. The Hawks currently lead the NBA in three-point percentage at 37.8 percent. They have never led the league in that category over a full season.
  5. John Collins is the only player in NBA history to average 15.0+ points per game with an effective field-goal percentage of 60.0 or higher over his career (minimum 200 games).
  6. Cam Reddish has gone from shooting 26.2 percent from three-point range last season to 38.7 percent this season. That is on pace to be the largest year-to-year improvement (+12.5) in NBA history among players to average at least 4.0 attempts per game with 25+ games played both seasons.

The New York Knicks might have discovered a most unexpected holiday gift in the resurgent Kemba Walker.

Yet, it'll be easier for the Knicks to enjoy the return to form of the former All-Star point guard if they can also rediscover their defensive identity.

The Knicks will look to begin regaining their defensive prowess Saturday afternoon, when they host the Atlanta Hawks in a Christmas Day matinee.

Both teams were off Friday after playing on the East Coast on Thursday night, when Walker's 44 points went for naught as the host Knicks fell to the Washington Wizards 124-117 and the visiting Hawks overcame a spate of absences to edge the Philadelphia 76ers, 98-96.

Walker scored 36 points in the middle two quarters Thursday on his way to finishing with his most points in a game since Dec. 11, 2019, when he also scored 44 points for the Boston Celtics against the Indiana Pacers.

The dramatic return from Tom Thibodeau's doghouse -- Walker was a healthy scratch for nine straight games before returning to the lineup Dec. 18, when the Knicks were missing six players due to injuries and COVID-19 protocols -- might have become a Jeremy Lin-esque tale Thursday if not for New York's defensive breakdowns against the Wizards, who shot 63.6 percent from the field in the second half, including 56.3 percent (9 of 16) from 3-point land.

"He played a monster game but we came out with a loss, so it's a shame to waste that type of effort with a game like that," Thibodeau said. "When you're short-handed like we are right now, we can't afford not to play with great intensity on every possession. So that's where we are."

Both the Knicks and Hawks are enduring short-handed stretches in the midst of COVID-19 outbreaks. New York played Thursday without Kevin Knox, Miles McBride, Nerlens Noel and Immanuel Quickley, all of whom were in health and safety protocols, as well as RJ Barrett and Quentin Grimes, who were activated from the COVID-19 list but were still building their conditioning.

Barrett practiced with the Knicks on Friday and could be available against the Hawks with Thibodeau saying, "We'll see how he feels tomorrow, and go from there."

Point guard Derrick Rose is also out indefinitely after undergoing ankle surgery Wednesday.

The Hawks have eight players on the COVID-19 list, including star point guard Trae Young. Center Clint Capela cleared protocols on Saturday and will return to action against the Knicks, ESPN reported.

But Atlanta, with a lineup featuring just one regular starter in John Collins and four other players who entered Thursday with a combined 70 NBA starts, raced out to a 19-point lead before overcoming a late deficit in the fourth quarter, when Bogdan Bogdanovic scored the Hawks' final 10 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2:51 left.

"We needed it desperately," Bogdanovic said. "Tough times. It's crazy."

Quickley is out of protocols for the Knicks and should be eligible to play Saturday. Multiple outlets reported Friday that Young isn't expected to be cleared for the game.

The Knicks are playing on Christmas Day for an NBA-high 54th time and the first time since 2018, when they fell to the Milwaukee Bucks, 109-95.

No other NBA team that has played on Christmas has gone longer between Dec. 25 appearances than the Hawks, who are playing on the holiday for the 20th time but the first time since 1989, when they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 115-104.

--Field Level Media

Updated December 25, 2021

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