For the Knicks, the two most exciting stories of the second half have been Nate Robinson's transformation into the team's go-to scorer and Danilo Gallinari's initial foray into the rotation. On a team larded with place holders, Gallinari and Robinson are two guys who could be Knicks for a long time, so their strong play is reason for positive feelings.
Do they work well together, though? Robinson missed Wednesday night's win against the Hawks with a sprained ankle, and the Knicks compensated with a heavy dose of Gallo. The results couldn't have been better. The rookie scored a season-high 17 points in 22 minutes, hitting four threes and taking advantage of the defense for some nifty moves to the hoop. His 11 shots were also a season-high, and it was clear that he was feeling more comfortable with every touch and every shot.
Because Gallinari usually plays with Robinson as part of the second unit, those touches and shots can be hard to come by. Robinson may not take as many bad shots as he used to, but he still takes his fair share. Some of those shots are defensible, Robinson's often the only Knick willing to drive the ball to the hoop, but there are still too many trips down court where the ball isn't moving as much as it should.
You don't want to draw too many conclusions from one game, but it seemed like the offense was more cohesive in the Atlanta game than it had been in the three previous losses. There was less standing around and waiting to take a bad perimeter shot, and very few isolation plays that left four players as observers. That's more in line with Mike D'Antoni's offensive design, and the results were good.
Developing Gallinari is and should be a major focus for the Knicks. Where re-signing Robinson fits in is still unclear, although Wednesday night offered a sign that all wouldn't be lost if the Knicks parted ways with the guard.