New York Knicks Mix 12/12/17: Enes Kanter fights through pain
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The New York Knicks take down the Atlanta Hawks, Enes Kanter battles through injury, and a full slate of games are coming up this week.

It may have been closer than Knicks fans wanted, but the Knicks continued their dominance at home this season with a victory over the lowly Hawks. Kristaps Porzingis led the way with 30 points and 8 rebounds. Big contributions came from other guys in the lineup as well. Doug McDermott and Jarrett Jack chipped in with 23 points and 19 points respectively. Additionally, Ron Baker had his most productive game of the season in which he played 31 minutes. He added 9 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, but his energy and effort on the defensive end was his most noticeable contribution.

A loss on Sunday would have resulted in consecutive losses to the two worst teams in the NBA, the Hawks and the Chicago Bulls. There are certainly things for this team to improve upon, but effort is not one of them. Bouncing back the night after a tough loss is a great thing for a young team to learn how to do, albeit against inferior competition.

If you took a glance at the box score it probably looks like Enes Kanter had an off night. Kanter told ESPN’s Ian Begley, “If you want to make the playoffs, you need to make some sacrifices.”

Despite coming to the game AND leaving the game on crutches Kanter still managed to play 18 minutes. This kind of emotional lift for his team cannot go unnoticed. Is it the smartest thing to be playing one of your best players when he can barely walk? Maybe not, but Kanter is quickly becoming a fan favorite in New York and gaining the respect of his teammates.

This team isn’t good enough to make any serious noise this season. Can they sneak into the playoffs as the 7 or 8 seed in the East? Maybe. But the biggest takeaway so far from this season is the change in culture that Jeff Hornacek is bringing.

Three more important games coming up this week for the Knicks. They won’t have to leave the five boroughs, which I’m sure will come as a relief because the Knicks have looked like a different team on the road.

Tonight they’ll face off against another young team in the midst of a rebuild. Lakers rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma will make their NBA debuts in Madison Square Garden. There could be a few future all-stars playing tonight so it should be fun to watch.

Thursday the Knicks will head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. The Knicks have a record of 1-8 on the road this season. Maybe the short trip across town and avoiding a true road trip will lead to a win in Barclays.

Finally, on Saturday Carmelo Anthony will return to Madison Square Garden for the first time since being traded to Oklahoma City. It should be interesting to see how Knicks fans react. Will they boo him or give him a nice ovation? Carmelo hasn’t had the nicest things to say about the Knicks organization since being dealt. It could go either way, but my guess is that it will be a very loud mix of both.

Other Knicks News, Stories

  • I take a look at where Trey Burke fits in the team’s long-term plans.
  • ESNY’s Ned O’Bryan wonders whether it’s time the Knicks give a long look to Isaiah Hicks, who is tearing up the G-League (along with Burke) in Westchester.
NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.