The Knicks put together not just their best game this season, but one of their best performances in recent memory, in what was a full-team effort during their 143-120 win over the Hawks on Tuesday night.
Six Knicks scored in double figures Tuesday, and every Knick that touched the floor managed to score, as they showed what this team could look like if they put together united efforts like this one on a consistent basis.
"A hundred percent," Dennis Smith Jr. said after the game when asked if the vibe of the team was to go have fun out there on the floor Tuesday night. "We put up 140 and it was like spread across, you know everybody got touches and everybody got shots so we want to try and put out that effort every night."
"I'm really really happy for our team," head coach Mike Miller said after the team put up the most points in a regular season game in nearly 40 years. "The way they played, the way they are coming together each day, they're doing a great job."
RJ Barrett led the way for the Knicks with a season-high 27 points, while Marcus Morris and Mitchell Robinson each chipped in with 22 points--plus an additional 13 rebounds from Robinson to cap off yet another double-double night for the center.
"Remember at the beginning of the season, I kept saying 'playing all 48?'" Barrett asked a reporter in the locker room after the game. "I think we did that tonight. Just continue to learn how to play the whole game."
"I think we're just getting started," Morris said. "Guys are stepping up, our younger guys are playing their asses off and I think the game is starting to slow down for them. That word 'accountability' is finally starting to click to them and guys are doing their job...It was a good game for us."
Morris added that he believed the players only meeting the team had a couple of weeks ago has resonated with everyone and influenced their recent success.
"I truly believe so," Morris said on the meeting helping things. "Guys are using the word 'accountability' all the time and that's something a lot of young guys don't buy into, but our young guys are really coming into their own, they're really trying hard and I think it's showing out there on the court. Like I said, the last couple games we really, really, really been putting our foot on the gas and going."
"You've got to give Mike credit," Morris said about his coach. "...Mike's come in, being able to have a team that's wounded and be able to kind of pull us together and get us going in the right direction, that's tough for any coach and he's dealing with it very well and he's a good coach."
Julius Randle's 17 and 11 was another big contribution to the team's win, but perhaps the story of the night came from Kevin Knox's performance.
The second year forward scored a season-high 17 points off the bench and also grabbed three steals on the night. Knox was all over the floor for the Knicks in the second half, including assisting Robinson on multiple alley-oop dunks down the stretch.
Knox has otherwise struggled this season, averaging 7.3 points on 37 percent shooting from the field and 32.6 percent shooting from three. The Knicks are hoping to see some development in the forward that they drafted with a Top-10 pick just two drafts ago.
"We still have to look at how young he is and how he's still continuing to mature physically," Miller said. "I think a big sign from Kevin tonight is he maybe didn't have a great first half, but showed maturity because he came back and had a great second half, so that's growth. When you see someone being able to respond from one half to the next and come out and play well."