Usually, the realm of professional sports is not associated with the world of fairy tales. Yet, Saturday's tilt between the New York Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks played out almost exactly as one would expect had the entire plot of the game been scribed by the Brothers Grimm, with one exception. For the Knicks, there was no happy ending since they fell to the Hawks by the score of 107-98, but otherwise, the Knicks did their best Cinderella impression.
For almost three-quarters of the game, the Knicks played as if they had been visited by their fairy grandmother right before the tip and been bestowed with the gift to play a dominant and impressively efficient brand of basketball. Their offense was clicking on all cylinders, led of course by Carmelo Anthony, who continues to be the only reliable scoring threat that the Knicks can put on the floor.
Once again, Anthony was handling his heavy offensive burden splendidly, scoring 28 points through the first 33:29 of the contest. That split is important because it marked the point in the game when the proverbial clock struck midnight on the Knicks' efficient ways and exposed the team's illusion of efficiency and reduced them to playing their usual straggling form of basketball; Anthony was not immune to those struggles as he ended the game scoring just seven more points on 3-of-9 shooting.
Almost as soon as Raymond Felton's three-pointer went through the basket with 2:31 remaining in the third quarter, giving the Knicks a 71-57 lead, what to that point had been superlative defense played by the Knicks offered about as much resistance as one would expect from a sopping wet paper bag, which naturally led to the quick evaporation of their lead.
Just 3:35 of game time elapsed before the Knicks' 14-point lead was a distant memory, and the Atlanta Hawks held the advantage on the scoreboard, an advantage the Hawks refused to relinquish as easily as the Knicks did.
During the aforementioned span, the Hawks scored on six of their seven offensive possessions, totaling 17 points in almost the blink of the eye. Their offensive run continued for the rest of the game as after taking their one-point lead with 10:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, their first lead since the 5:39 mark in the second quarter, the Hawks scored on 14 of their next 22 offensive possessions, adding another 33 points to their offensive output.
The performance of the Knicks had been so promising right up to the moment when the clock struck midnight on their chances of winning the contest and revealed them to be the team we have seen repeatedly throughout the season. In other words, they turned into the team that refuses to maintain their defensive intensity and fails to get defensive stops in the latter stages of games.
Unfortunately, their defensive failures cost them another opportunity to win a game and prevented them from achieving a happy ending since their true selves does not possess the inner beauty of an actual fairy tale protagonist. Instead, the contest ended in yet another unsurprising defeat for the New York Knicks.