It was a meaningless regular season finale Wednesday night at The Garden, but the New York Knicks who were in uniform showed up to play and came away with a 98-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
The Knicks improved to 54-28 on the season, which gave the Knicks their most victories in a season since the 1996-97 season.
It turned out to be a battle of the benches as the Hawks rested their starters as well. For the Knicks, the likes of: Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, Tyson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and Marcus Camby all sat this one out.
That meant it was just another opportunity for Chris Copeland to shine, as the rookie led all scorers with 33 points, just one game after dropping 32 against the Charlotte Bobcats on Monday.
The Knicks shot 42 percent from the floor and drained 37.5 percent of their attempts from behind the arc. The difference in this one though was the fact that they limited the Hawks to only 2-of-21 shooting on three-point attempts.
With that being said, let’s take a look at how the Knicks graded out to close the regular season.
Pablo Prigioni (8 points, 3-of-3 shooting, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal)
Prigioni got off to a monster start and was on his way to putting up a monster line before spraining his ankle at the end of the first quarter. His status right now is unknown for Game 1 of the playoffs on Saturday, but even though he played only 11 minutes, he earns a high grade for his start. Grade: A
James White (20 points, 8-of-15 shooting, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals)
White got 43 minutes of playing time to show what he could do and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting. The impressive part was that he knocked down 3-of-6 attempts from behind the arc. He also grabbed some rebounds and moved the ball successfully. In addition, he was solid at the defense end of the floor. Even though it wasn’t against great competition, White was impressive. Grade: A
Iman Shumpert (18 points, 7-of-11 shooting, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals)
Shumpert had a great all-around game Wednesday night and was very efficient doing so. He was able to successfully break down the Hawks’ defense. He also thrived as the primary point guard once Prigioni went down. I think it is safe to say that Shump looks like a much different player right now than he did a couple of months ago. Grade: A
Chris Copeland (33 points, 14-of-29 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 2 blocks)
Copeland shined once again and made his case for minutes in the postseason. He scored from all over the floor, getting to the basket, scoring inside and drawing contact and getting to the free-throw line eight times. He only attempted four three-pointers on the night which makes his all-around game even more impressive. He wasn’t very active on the glass, but it was a great performance nonetheless. Grade: A
Earl Barron (11 points, 5-of-14 shooting, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block)
Making his Knicks season debut, Barron owned the glass, grabbing eight rebounds, including six offensive boards. He was extremely active in the paint and found a way to get open in the lane a lot. He missed a lot of shots, but that probably should have been expected from a guy who hasn’t played a game in a very long time. Grade: A
Steve Novak (3 points, 1-of-8 shooting, 1 rebound, 3 assists, 1 steal)
Novak played 41 minutes and threw up a ton of bricks. He missed on 5-of-6 of his three-point attempts and didn’t do much to contribute in other areas. Not a pretty way to end the regular season for Novak. Grade: D
Quentin Richardson (5 points, 1-of-11 shooting, 10 rebounds, 1 assist)
Richardson showed some rust, but this also was expected after not playing a game since the preseason. After making his first shot of the night, Q went on to miss his next 10 attempts. He did show some aggressiveness on the glass though and grabbed 10 boards, five of them offensive. Grade: C
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.