Only three games took place in the NBA on Thursday evening, as most of the league made its way to Charlotte for All-Star Weekend beginning on Friday. The Atlanta Hawks were one of the six teams that took the court, however, and the team faced what appeared to be a cushy match-up against the struggling New York Knicks. 48 minutes later, the Hawks fell by a final score of 106-91 and, in the process, allowed the visitors to snap an 18-game losing streak.
Despite the favorable nature of the match-up on paper, the night began in ominous fashion for the Hawks. New York scored the first 14 (!) points of the evening and the Hawks missed their first 11 shots, including four attempts from long distance.
Finally, John Collins converted a follow-up dunk on a miss from Taurean Prince to break the ice.
The offensive issues weren’t done there, as Atlanta scored just five points in the first seven minutes and allowed New York to eventually build a 15-point lead in the first quarter. The Hawks did briefly climb to within ten points at 19-9 but, when the first period expired, it was the lowest scoring first quarter of the season for Atlanta with 13 points and it came with 6-of-29 shooting and 0-of-9 from three.
Somehow, there were two highlights, with Collins contributing the first and DeAndre’ Bembry throwing down a left-handed dunk in traffic to provide entertainment.
DeAndre' Bembry is ready to get the show started. pic.twitter.com/tcLOjwp0qY— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 15, 2019
Finally, the home team awakened in the second quarter, slashing what became a 17-point deficit to only three at the half. Dewayne Dedmon connected on back-to-back threes to bring Atlanta within nine points and, all told, he scored 11 points in the period on perfect shooting.
Despite strong play from old friend John Jenkins on the Knicks side, the Hawks chipped away at the margin, using a 12-2 run to knot the game at 47-47.
After 24 minutes, the Hawks had to feel fortunate to be trailing by only three points and Atlanta was able to survive based on 50 percent shooting (including 6-of-12 from three) in the second quarter. In another small victory, the team committed only four turnovers before halftime and that, combined with improved defense after the opening minutes, helped to create a more competitive environment.
The halftime break didn’t cure every ill, though, and both teams submitted less than ideal performances in the third quarter. Unfortunately for the Hawks, that meant that the Knicks kept their lead and, in this case, increased it.
New York quickly pushed their margin to nine and, while Atlanta chipped away, an ugly end to the quarter allowed the visitors to take a nine-point edge into the fourth quarter. In short order, the Knicks expanded their advantage to 12 and things looked relatively bleak for the Hawks.
From there, Atlanta was never able to mount a charge, slashing the margin to single digits on only brief occasions. The end result was a 15-point defeat that should be removed from everyone’s memory with haste and only Omari Spellman, Dewayne Dedmon and Kent Bazemore performed at a near-adequate level for the Hawks.
The Hawks — aside from Young and Collins, who are headed to Charlotte — will now rest for a full week before returning to action on Friday, Feb. 22 against the Detroit Pistons. Stay tuned.