Kemba Walker brings holiday cheer on Christmas Day as the Knicks blast the Hawks
Kemba Walker‘s recent red-hot scoring streak came to an end on Christmas Day. Fortunately for New York Knicks fans, he still put forth a masterful performance for the orange and blue. Right now, Walker is the gift that keeps on giving.
He was giving during this Christmas matinee, dishing out 12 assists en route to a triple-double. This was just the 10th triple-double in NBA history on Christmas Day and the second time a Knick has put up a triple-double one game after dropping 40+ points.
Despite his 3-for-12 shooting, Walker is finding ways to impact the game. The offense is running like a well-oiled machine with the four-time All-Star running the show.
Putting the ball in his hands is taking Julius Randle off the ball — something that needs to happen. When Randle has the ball, it sticks because he is so intent on running isolations out of the mid-post. When Walker has the ball, the offense clicks because defenders are concerned about him getting downhill and kicking out to shooters.
Although Randle likes to be the center of attention offensively, it’s clear he’s better off with this version of Walker as the focal point. His 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting and 6-for-9 from three are proof-positive of this hypothesis.
The Knicks held the Hawks to 87 points, keeping a team below the 90-point mark for just the second time this season. Let’s be honest, this wasn’t a dominant defensive effort by the orange and blue. They were playing against Atlanta without Trae Young, who has yet to clear health and safety protocols.
Hawks coach Nate McMillan was forced to roll out a rotation that included Jalen Johnson, Skylar Mays, and Lance Stephenson. Yes, that Lance Stephenson.
Atlanta missed a ton of good looks, but let’s give credit where credit is due — Mitchell Robinson was an absolute beast defensively. Tom Thibodeau’s defense is predicated on having a rim protector who can challenge anything and everything in the paint. Robinson’s five blocks were key to slowing down the Hawks, but he altered a ton of shots that won’t show up in the box score either.
The Hawks are feeling the heat from rising COVID cases, but so is every other team in the NBA. Shorthanded roster or not, this is a win that can help the Knicks turn things around as they start to get guys back into the lineup.