Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks: Postgame Grades and Analysis for NYK

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2013

Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks: Postgame Grades and Analysis for NYK

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    The New York Knicks topped the Atlanta Hawks, 98-92, in a battle of the benches on Wednesday night.

    With players such as Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague all sitting, this was a fairly uneventful affair for most of the way.

    Chris Copeland led all scorers with 33 points, this just two nights after he scored 32 against the Charlotte Bobcats. Mike Scott headlined the Hawks with 23.

    Atlanta shot an abysmal 2-of-21 from three-point range while New York hit on nine of its 24 attempts.

    The Knicks will open up with the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs while the Hawks will face the Indiana Pacers.

Point Guard: Pablo Prigioni, A

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    Pablo Prigioni got off to an outstanding start, recording eight points, five rebounds and three assists in the first 11 minutes. It all unraveled, however, when he landed awkwardly on his foot along the baseline.

    Prigioni sprained his right ankle and did not return. The severity of the injury is not yet known, but he was limping very noticeably in heading back to the locker room. Fortunately, he was putting some pressure on it.

    Based on how well Prigioni played throughout the first quarter, he earns high marks. He even shot and drained a couple of threes within the first few minutes, and we all know how rare Pablo actually takes long jumpers.

Shooting Guard: Iman Shumpert, A

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    Iman Shumpert put forth a great all-around performance on Wednesday night.

    The swingman scored 18 points off 7-of-11 shooting, dished out eight assists and collected seven rebounds.

    He did a wonderful jump breaking down the defense and getting into the lane, and with Prigioni injuring himself early, he was thrown into duty as the primary point guard. He did a more than fine job as the floor general, as evidenced by his assist total.

    The aggressiveness Shumpert is displaying now as opposed to what he showed a couple of months ago when he was still recovering from the ACL is night-and-day. He is looking more and more like the player we all saw last season.

    Shumpert experienced cramping in his right quad late in the fourth quarter and sat out the final few minutes.

Small Forward: James White, A

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    This was an awesome game for James White.

    The athletic wing scored 20 points off 8-of-15 shooting and faked the Hawks defense out with a great ball fake in the third quarter and then cruised in for a layup. Not known as an outside shooter, White also connected on three of his six three-point tries.

    White didn't just score the basketball against Atlanta.

    He also grabbed six rebounds, handed out three assists and came up with three steals in 43 minutes of action.

    It's entertaining to see what some of these end-of-the-bench guys can do when given playing time. Of course, it was against not-so-stellar competition, but White still played extremely well in the final two contests of the season.

Power Forward: Chris Copeland, A+

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    Copeland was sensational for the second consecutive game, scoring 33 points off 14-of-29 shooting.

    Copeland once again scored from all over the floor, getting to the basket, scoring inside and drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line. Perhaps what was most impressive about Copeland's performance against Atlanta was that he attempted only four three-pointers, demonstrating how aggressive he was in putting the rock on the floor.

    It's clear that Copeland has a scorer's mentality, as in both of the games where the Knicks rested all of their key players, he took control of the offense and looked to put the team on his back by himself.

    Even with everyone returning for Game 1 of the postseason, Copeland will likely get some minutes.

Center: Earl Barron, A+

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    How about Earl Barron?

    The Knicks signed him right after they found out Rasheed Wallace had retired, and he certainly came to play on Wednesday night.

    The big man scored 11 points and hauled in a career-high 18 rebounds, six of them coming on the offensive end. He was incredibly active from the get-go, doing a great job of getting open in the lane. His hands were a bit shaky and he missed a couple of layups, but that is to be expected for someone who hasn't played in quite a long time.

    Don't entirely dismiss Barron's contributions in this one. With the health of Chandler, Martin and Marcus Camby in question, there is a chance that Barron sees some playing time during the playoffs.

Sixth Man: Steve Novak, D-

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    This certainly wasn't one of Steve Novak's better nights.

    The sharpshooter wasn't sharp at all against the Hawks, going 1-of-6 from three-point range and 1-of-8 from the floor overall. It wasn't like he wasn't getting open looks, either. He appeared to take too much time on a couple of his shots, and it threw him out of rhythm.

    In 41 minutes of play, Novak recorded three points and three assists. He also posted a minus-3 plus/minus stat.

    Yeah. Not a very nice way to end the regular season. Hopefully for the Knicks, he has a short memory come Saturday.

Rest of Knicks Bench, C+

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    With New York resting virtually all of their guys, the only bench player they had outside of Novak was the newly signed Quentin Richardson.

    Having not played since the preseason, Richardson displayed obvious signs of rust. He shot 1-of-11 from the floor and missed some easy layups, this after swishing his first shot of the game (which was a triple). Richardson went 1-of-4 from downtown and demonstrated no shyness in shooting the basketball.

    You have to think that Q-Rich won't get too much—if any—burn in the playoffs. Unless there are injuries or foul trouble, Richardson will probably remain on the bench.

    Richardson, who also played for the Knicks from 2005-09, scored five points and was able to pull down 10 rebounds (five of them offensive). Due to his tenacity on the glass and the fact that he was shaking off a ton of rust, Q-Rich earns a respectable grade.