The Atlanta Hawks made their way to New York City on Tuesday night to face off against the lowly Knicks at Madison Square Garden and, in short, a calamity ensued.
The Knicks recently fired David Fizdale from their head coaching position and Mike Miller has taken over as interim leader for the time being. New York has actually seen some improvement since the change in leadership took place as they’ve gone 2-3 with Miller at the helm.
The Knicks definitely showed that they meant business in the first quarter as they posted 41 points (a season high for New York) on the Hawks’ defense. Atlanta actually looked fairly good in their last game against a much tougher opponent in the Lakers, but once again, the inconsistencies of a young team came back to haunt the Hawks.
Trae Young’s scoring kept things competitive, but when Young exited the game for rest things turned for the worst with haste. In the final three minutes, New York went on a 16-3 run and from there the momentum was on their side.
Trae step-backs don't get old pic.twitter.com/jFGl4CFZWk— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 18, 2019
Leading 41-27 to open the second quarter, New York continued to add on. From the 2:23 point of the first quarter until the 9:50 mark of the second quarter, the Hawks did not score and the Knicks took full advantage by rattling off 21 (yes, 21) straight points.
The Knicks are ranked as the worst offense in the entire league this season, and the Hawks allowed them to score 77 first half points when all was said and done.
The even worse part was that, outside of Young, absolutely nobody for the Hawks was able to score. Young made his way over the 20 point mark in the first half and that was just about the only good thing to say about Atlanta in the first half.
.@TheTraeYoung is feelin' good at The Garden. He has 22 points and 3 assists in the first half.— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) December 18, 2019
Presented by @verizon pic.twitter.com/iS1UqLa9eG
It very likely could be considered as the worst half the Hawks have played this season considering the circumstances, and Atlanta has participated in some pretty atrocious basketball this season.
Being down by 24 points at halftime should inspire some better play in the second half for any team, but being down 24 points at halftime to this season’s iteration of the Knicks should be downright insulting for any team.
The Hawks played a bit better to open the third quarter. There was a tangible uptick in energy on the defensive end. As the quarter waned, the Hawks found themselves on a mini 8-0 run, and with less than three minutes to go Atlanta was dead-even in scoring during the quarter with New York.
The unit that made the most push didn’t even consist of Trae Young as Kevin Huerter became the main initiator of the offense. Vince Carter boosted the scoring of that unit as well with a couple of difficult step-back three pointers.
VINC333 pic.twitter.com/64uWlV4YX3— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) December 18, 2019
The third period was easily the most positive of the game for Atlanta, but the Knicks still ended up outscoring the Hawks 32-31 in the period to stretch the deficit even further to 25 with the result seemingly a formality.
The fourth quarter began much like the third with some solid defensive intensity by the Hawks. Atlanta simply couldn’t get a run started though as the Knicks did the right thing by slowing things down in the halfcourt, not letting the Hawks get out in transition like they need in order to get rolling.
Young made his way over the 30 point mark around the midway point of the fourth and then really turned on the scoring effort as he rattled off 10 points in less than three minutes.
Unfortunately, it was all too little too late again for the Hawks. They simply cannot expect to win games when they allow over 70 points in a half, and even though they played to the tune of a near dead-even second half with the Knicks, the game was simply over at halftime.
Young led the Hawks with 42 points and eight assists on the night. Kevin Huerter added 14 points and eight assists of his own followed by 19 points and five rebounds from De’Andre Hunter.
New York had six players in double digits, led by a career high 27 points from R.J. Barrett. Marcus Morris posted 22 points of his own, and Mitchell Robinson added 22 points with 13 rebounds.
Atlanta will be back at it on Thursday night from State Farm Arena when they return home for a quick game against the Utah Jazz.