Resurgent Kemba Walker leads Knicks over Hawks
Kemba Walker continued his resurgence Saturday afternoon as the New York Knicks point guard posted his first triple-double in almost eight years — and the first one ever by a Knicks player on Christmas Day — as the hosts led wire-to-wire in a 101-87 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Walker, who was a healthy scratch for 10 straight games from Nov. 27 through Dec. 16 before returning to the lineup after the Knicks were ravaged by COVID-19 and injuries, finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists in his first triple-double since April 4, 2014. He is the seventh player to post a triple-double on Christmas Day and the first since Draymond Green did so for the Golden State Warriors in 2017.
The 31-year-old New York City native, who exited to a standing ovation and chants of KEM-BA WALK-ER with 1:56 left, has 104 points, 33 rebounds and 28 assists in his past four games — averages of 31.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists.
"I'm home." – Kemba Walker pic.twitter.com/atDlhB9vj5
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 25, 2021
Julius Randle had a double-double (25 points, 12 rebounds) for the Knicks, who raced out to a 19-3 lead.
Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes each had 15 points while Obi Toppin added 13 points for New York, which has alternated wins with losses in the past five games.
John Collins and Deion Wright each scored 20 points for the undermanned Hawks, who were missing superstar point guard Trae Young as well as Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari and Onyeka Okongwu due to COVID-19 protocols. Skylar Mays scored 11 points and Cam Reddish added 10 for Atlanta, which played on Christmas Day for the first time since 1989.
The Hawks, who have lost eight of 12, got as close as four points when Bogdan Bogdanovich hit a 3-pointer with 2:52 left in the second quarter. But Fournier scored all the points in a half-ending 10-4 run for the Knicks, who led 61-51 at the half.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Wright and Collins narrowed the New York lead to 65-59 with 8:27 left. But Atlanta went ice cold again, going 0-for-6 with two turnovers over a span of 4:01 and New York maintained a double-digit lead for the final 17-plus minutes.