Hawks lose a tough one at home to the Knicks 113-108

In a gritty defensive game, the Atlanta Hawks fell to the New York Knicks 113-108 on Monday night at State Farm Arena. 

Trae Young put on another show, finishing the game with game-highs of 31 points and 14 assists as he surpassed 3,500 career points. However, he also turned the ball over eight times, a consistent theme in his career (he averages 4.2 per game).

“I gotta do a better job,” Young said. “I know turnovers are going to happen, and [we] just have to clean it up and control it better. It will get better over time.”

De’Andre Hunter tied a season-high for himself with 23 points (also scored 23 in the New Year’s Day win against the Nets in Brooklyn) and eight rebounds on an efficient 9-15 from the field. The second-year man out of Virginia has put together a solid start to the season and will be pivotal to a young Hawks team’s success. 

“He has been playing really good,” Young said on Hunter. “I tell him to be confident and aggressive because it helps our team.”

Clint Capela recorded his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds. His aggressive activity on the glass is something that Lloyd Pierce has never gotten from a player in his tenure with the Hawks. Now, the Swiss-born center continues to show he can provide ample energy.

John Collins posted 18 points and eight rebounds as well as two steals. Frustrated, the fourth-year Hawk expressed emotion after the loss.

“It’s tough. We do a good job of playing well in three quarters, and it gets jumbled in the fourth,” Collins said. “For some reason, fourth quarters have eluded us. I know we have potential and still a lot of work to do.”

The continued issues come in close games that go into the fourth quarter. Last year, the team performed poorly in fourth quarters, which often led to bad losses in close games. 

This year, a wide variety of veterans, younger players who have had an offseason to develop and a deep bench all allow the Hawks to have weapons at their disposal for a full 48 minutes. However, the loss to New York comes after blowing a 15-point lead in the second half Saturday night to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“The second game giving up the lead is tough,” Young said. “We have to figure out how to close games better. Those sting because you have a good chance of winning.”

For the winners, Julius Randle dominated the Hawks,  posting a near triple-double with 28 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists. Sure, Atlanta forced him into seven turnovers, but Knicks’ coach Tom Thibodeau got help from his whole unit when needed.

R.J. Barrett posted 26 points, tying a season-high, 11 rebounds five assists. The second-year guard continues to build on an impressive start to his sophomore season this far. 

But, the Hawks’ biggest challenge may have come from the Knicks’ bench. Rookie Immanuel Quickly scored a career-high 16 points, including big shots down the fourth-quarter stretch.

A defensive-minded team now under Thibodeau, the Knicks bothered the Hawks all night long. Atlanta shot just 46% from the field and 32% from three-point range. Coming into the game, Atlanta was second in the league in scoring, averaging 120 points a game, but the Knicks had other ideas and flipped the script. 

Overall, the story of the game comes from the interior and points in the paint.

Although the Knicks only outscored Atlanta by four on the inside, they got there with ease whenever they wanted all night. On the other hand, Atlanta controlled the boards early but then got careless towards the second half – when the game became competitive.

Fortunately, Atlanta will have all season to improve their fourth-quarter woes and continue to improve as a team. With a great leader and mentor in Rajon Rondo (out with left knee soreness) as well as Kris Dunn, the Hawks still have time to continue to develop and grow. 

Atlanta will host rookie phenom LaMelo Ball and Charlotte Hornets Wednesday night as they look to bounce back after a two-game skid before finishing the two-game series in Charlotte on Friday.