The New York Knicks are struggling to defend the perimeter during their worst start in five years, though coach Derek Fisher insists that’s not the biggest thing working against his club.
Whether it be from the 3-point or foul line, Kyle Korver and the Atlanta Hawks simply hope to keep getting easy opportunities against them.
Carmelo Anthony and the injury-ravaged Knicks will try to avoid a fifth straight defeat Monday night when the Hawks go for their first road victory and a sweep of this home-and-home set.
New York (2-5) continues to get burned from 3-point range, allowing Atlanta (2-3) to hit 9 of 22 on Saturday and rally from a 13-point halftime deficit for a 103-96 home win.
"The lack of confidence we have as a team, it’s affecting both ends of the court," said Anthony, averaging 17.5 points on 31.0 percent shooting during the four-game losing streak.
The Knicks, mired in their worst start since opening 1-9 in 2009, have let opponents hit 48.3 percent from beyond the arc during their skid and are among the league’s worst in that category (42.7).
That doesn’t bode well heading into another matchup with the Hawks, who rank among the NBA leaders in 3-point shooting at 41.0 percent and have made 50 3s in their past five games.
Korver, who led the NBA in 3-point accuracy at 47.2 percent in 2013-14, is 19 of 31 this season after making 6 of 9 en route to a season-high 27 points Saturday. He’s hit at least two 3s in 11 straight games against the Knicks, going 35 of 71 (49.3 percent).
Korver also made all seven of his free throws as Atlanta went 28 of 36 at the line – both season highs – while the Knicks were 8 of 11.
That’s a disparity which is among Fisher’s many concerns. The Knicks are attempting 11.5 fewer free throws per game than their opponents.
"People like to talk about 3-point shooting, but it’s points in the paint, free throws, points at the rim – that’s ultimately what beats you," Fisher said.
Anthony is averaging 4.6 free throws per game – well below his 7.7 career mark – after attempting only three Saturday.
The seven-time All-Star came out strong with 14 points in the first quarter but was held to six over the final three, missing eight of his last 10 field-goal attempts. He had averaged 34.4 points in his previous eight games against Atlanta.
"Paul (Millsap) is unique in that he can guard a guy like Carmelo that can play off the post," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said, "and then when you have DeMarre (Carroll) and Thabo (Sefolosha), it just helps against a great player when you can run a lot of fresh people at him."
Carroll also has done a nice job offensively with a career-best average of 12.6 points, going 10 of 21 from 3-point range. Mike Scott has hit 10 of 20 3-point attempts for the Hawks, who are looking to avoid starting 0-4 on the road for the first time since 2007.
Atlanta split two meetings in New York last season.
Tim Hardaway Jr. could get his third straight start for the Knicks with Jose Calderon (calf), Andrea Bargnani (hamstring) and Pablo Prigioni (ankle) likely sidelined. He’s provided a lift with 17.0 points per game and 10-of-18 3-point shooting in his last three.