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Hawks overcome uneven start in 116-104 victory over Knicks

That was fun.

NBA: New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Wins haven’t been easy to come by for the Atlanta Hawks but, on Friday night, the team overcame real challenges on the way to adding one to the ledger. The Hawks engineered an inspiring second half performance and, in the end, it was good enough for a 116-104 victory over the New York Knicks.

After a (very) brief positive start from the Hawks, things began to roll downhill in a less than appealing way. The Knicks used a 23-7 run to take a 12-point lead midway through the opening frame and, in short, New York’s offense overwhelmed Atlanta’s defense in the early going.

The first quarter saw the Knicks shoot 76 percent from the floor and 67 percent from three on the way to 39 points and there was little resistance. Fortunately, the Hawks awakened to some extent in the second quarter, scoring eight straight points to open the period and hanging around from there en route to an eight-point halftime deficit.

While there weren’t a ton of bright spots in the first half, there were multiple John Collins dunks and, well, a beauty of a feed from DeAndre’ Bembry.

The opening minute of the third quarter was a fantastic one for the Hawks, as Collins helped to engineer five straight points to force a New York timeout. At that point, Atlanta trailed by only three and, moments later, the Hawks tied the game on a three-point play from Dewayne Dedmon.

In the midst of a back and forth exchange from the two teams, this also happened.

The Hawks would deliver a 7-0 run to take a five-point lead and, at that point, the crowd erupted to levels not heard at that point in the evening. Atlanta failed to score over the final three minutes of the third but, all told, the 30-point explosion prior to that was good enough to provide a three-point advantage with 12 minutes remaining.

The home team then led for the vast majority of the fourth quarter on the strength of improved defense (and woeful New York shot-making) and looked to be in good shape as a result. Then, Atlanta missed two free throws (after a Kristaps Porzingis technical foul) and, on the other end, the visitors scored to slash the margin to only five with less than 4:30 remaining.

After a timeout, the Hawks caught a break in the form of a deflected rebound that allowed Marco Belinelli to knock down a three and, after stringing together three consecutive stops, order was restored in the form of an eight-point lead with less than three minutes remaining. Belinelli then converted what was probably the dagger of the evening, banging home another triple before Taurean Prince hit a three to give Atlanta an insurmountable 14-point lead that sealed the win.

Dennis Schröder led the way for the home team, scoring 26 points on 11 of 18 shooting and dishing out eight assists. In support, Dewayne Dedmon (16 points, six rebounds) had a big night and seven members of the Hawks reached double-figures in scoring to provide real balance to the proceedings.

The Hawks will now have less than 24 hours to rest after this victory, as the team will play host to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday evening. Stay tuned.