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Hawks suffer second straight loss in poor showing against Knicks

A very disappointing result for the home side.

New York Knicks v Atlanta Hawks Photo by Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their second consecutive game at home in a disappointing loss to the New York Knicks on Monday night, falling 113-108 at State Farm Arena.

Trae Young led the Hawks with 31 points and a season-high 14 assists while De’Andre Hunter also tied a season-high with 23 points.

For the Knicks, Julius Randle flirted with a triple-double, scoring 28 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists. RJ Barrett also added a double-double on the game, scoring 26 points and 11 rebounds.

If you need to catch up on how the game unfolded chronologically, you can do so here — we’re going to be jumping right into it today.

Let’s call a stone a stone: Hawks were poor in this game, and poor for many stretches of the game. One excellent run out of a timeout to overcome a double-digit deficit in the first quarter and then another run in the second quarter arguably gave the Hawks more than they deserved on the balance of play for the first 24 minutes, taking a 58-54 lead into the half.

Within a few minutes inside the third quarter it looked as though things had changed as the Hawks raced to a 13 point lead, and then a game-high 15 point lead with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter. By the end of the third quarter, however, instead of taking a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter the Knicks were within four points heading into the fourth quarter.

So, what happened?

Offensively, the Hawks were a little unorganized when Young exited with under three minutes to go in the third (the solution to this is not necessarily ‘insert Rajon Rondo!!’) but defensively was where the issues lay — between that and the Knicks hitting three of their four three-pointers on the entire game at that point (hitting seven in total on the game).

With just over two minutes to go, the Hawks still lead by 13 points. Randle is doubled and the Knicks move the ball around. From Randle to Immanuel Quickley, Quickley to Kevin Knox, Knox drive, back to Quickley who hits the three-pointer:

Not quite sure if Bogdan Bogdanovic needs to leave Quickley with John Collins there to protect the rim on the Knox drive but good offense from the Knicks there as they shift the ball around (and the Hawks were doing well flying around for a bit too).

Speaking postgame, Lloyd Pierce referenced two ‘strong-side’ three-pointers the Hawks gave up in the third quarter as key moments in this game. He never stated which ones, but I think it’s fair to say this was likely one of them.

Next, Austin Rivers and Randle run the pick-and-roll, and as Rivers gets downhill. Solomon Hill is drawn towards the action, leaving Knox in the corner to get an open three away and sinks it:

To be fair to Solomon Hill, you probably live with Knox draining threes if that’s what it comes down to it.

With the third quarter now close to its end, the Knicks kept firing. Here, the ball is passed out to Barrett on the three-point line, and a quick drive to his right loses Kevin Huerter, who tries to go for the steal, and Barrett hits the jumper:

Just like that Quickley three-pointer, that Barrett jumper came at the end of the shotclock, and that’s the disappointing thing the for the Hawks with some of these possessions.

From effectively nothing, the Knicks get an easy, easy basket as Quickley brings the ball up the floor. As Quickley heads towards the wing — and Barrett the other way — Brandon Goodwin calls to Cam Reddish to make the switch. Reddish, however, is too slow on the switch and Quickley has an easy dunk at the rim:

This shouldn’t have been anything too complicated, the Hawks had been switching most of the night — that was poor from Reddish. That said, he wasn’t the only one who blew a switch last night: another that stood out was Hunter and Bogdanovic in the second quarter:

Anyways, returning to the final Knicks basket in the third quarter, the Knicks bring up the ball with seven seconds remaining. Randle finds Knox on the wing and this time Hill is there to contest the shot but Knox hits the three at the buzzer, falling out of bounds:

All of a sudden, it’s now a four-point game heading into the final quarter having just stared at a 15 point lead and one run away in the fourth quarter — even if the lead was 10/11 points entering it — from a potential blowout victory. There were some shots in there that you could live with but the Hawks conceded some poor buckets too, and that — in addition to their slightly confused offense to end the third — meant instead of carrying a double-digit lead, it’s only four-point game.

The fourth quarter did not go well for the Hawks, shooting 33% from the field and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc in the final frame in a horrid affair for all.

Some of these looks were good looks that didn’t go down...

Here, Young rejects the Clint Capela screen before using the re-screen as he probes inside before missing the uncontested floater from close range:

A good look from three on this possession from Huerter — who did not have a good night shooting the ball — but it doesn’t fall on this occasion:

Down the stretch however... Things were not great.

It starts with Reddish air-balling an open three-pointer:

One of several bad misses from Reddish on the game — he was very poor offensively last night and that is being kind. I’ll leave it at that.

Despite going on a two-minute scoring drought, the Hawks are still in this game, trailing by just two points with three minutes remaining. Even at this stage, the Hawks had little right to still be this close to the Knicks on the balance of 45 minutes of play.

The Knicks then put some deserved distance between themselves and the Hawks as Quickley gets Young with the ‘Trae Young foul’ call, going to the line for three free throws, which he makes:

There is the obvious irony of Young called for a foul that he often benefits from but again, the disappointing part of this for the Hawks is how close towards the end of the shot clock the foul comes. The Hawks had quite a number of these last night.

Next of the notable plays down the stretch, a double-miss for the Hawks as Young is blocked at the rim by Mitchell Robinson before Collins grabs the offensive rebound. However, he might have been better off passing out and not challenging the immense length of Robinson, which he does and comes up short:

That said, Robinson was not vertical with his challenge and there appeared to be some contact? Perhaps Collins could be aggrieved to not receive a call in that situation (certainly, for some of the things that were being called last night for fouls).

At the end of that play, Collins himself is called for the foul, and with the Knicks in the bonus, Randle goes to the line for two free throws (splitting the pair).

Now trailing by four points with under two minutes to go and very much in the offensive doldrums, Hunter hits a huge three-pointer from Young to bring the Hawks, again, undeservingly, to a one-point game:

Hunter — who enjoyed another strong game on the early season — had hit some big shots in the fourth quarter of this game but that was the pick of the bunch.

However, the Hawks didn’t have long to enjoy this newfound hope, as Rivers hits the catch-and-shoot three over Young to immediately restore the Knicks’ four-point advantage:

Nothing too much in that three, it was just disappointing to see the Hawks immediately concede a three after such a huge basket from Hunter seconds earlier.

To further compound matters, Young is called for the offensive foul on the extension of the forearm heading the other way on Rivers:

On the drive, Rivers attacks Young but his layup is missed at the rim, however, Randle is there to clean the glass and his tip-in puts the Knicks up by six points with 46 seconds remaining:

The issue at this stage is that the Hawks have zero timeouts, electing to use their last timeout on a challenge with just under four minutes remaining, the Hawks unhappy with a call on Collins for a rebound, which put the Knicks to the free throw line as they were in the bonus.

This was the play in question:

Speaking after the game, Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce was aware that this was his final timeout but believed the Hawks could win the challenge, keep the timeout and prevent the Knicks from scoring.

“I just thought we were going to get it,” said Pierce. “I thought he was first to the basketball, they said he imposed in his area. I was trying to take some points away. You win it, you keep the timeout, you keep them from scoring two crucial points. You lose it, it’s a fucked up deal and we just lost out on it.”

Being without those timeouts played right into the Knicks’ hands but even more so as the Hawks struggled offensively and certainly at this stage of the game.

To put the icing on the cake, Reddish proceeds to blow a dunk at the rim:

That about sums up the Hawks last night: a blown opportunity.

In the end, the Hawks fall to the 113-108 home defeat — their second on the bounce at home — and what a poor defeat it was.

The Hawks were poor for the majority of the game and, honestly, had zero right to win that game — they deserved nothing from that game. They had built up a 15 point lead towards the latter stages of the third quarter without having played exceptionally — to give that away in the manner they did to end the third quarter and then the fourth quarter as a whole was very disappointing.

“For some reason, fourth quarters have eluded us,” said Collins postgame. “We’ve got to a better job locking in mentally. Can’t let the small mistakes beat us at the end of the game. Did all that work to lose like that. Can’t happen.”

Collins in particular was vocal about how the Hawks should have beaten both the Cavaliers and the Knicks, believing that the Hawks are “much better” than both of those teams, before saying “credit where credit is due.”

It was interesting to hear Collins speak with that much emphasis about it, but he was also just displeased about how these games unfolded late-on.

“I know we have a lot of potential and a lot of work to do but right now, I’m just pissed,” Collins went on to say. “I feel like we’ve lost two games we shouldn’t have lost. The competitor in me wants to do anything to take those back, to get back to the moment we had both of those leads and do everything we can to keep it. Back to the lab.”

Postgame, Pierce also lamented some of those ‘breakdowns’ in the second half.

“We had a couple (breakdowns) down the stretch,” said Pierce. “Two (breakdowns), leaving strong-side shooters, they get two corner threes — inappropriate help. They made a run at the end but it was more just some of our breakdowns.”

“The second game (in a row) giving up the lead, it’s tough,” added Trae Young postgame. “We got a lot of guys out but that’s no excuse — it’s the ‘next man up’ mentality. We’ve got to figure out how to close games better. Giving up two games in a row being up 15 points, it’s tough. Those sting because you know you have a good chance to win those. For us, we’re still learning, it’s still early. You never want to get too high or too low early on in the season because this is just the beginning. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot of guys that we still need to get healthy to come in and help us.”

“We’ve just got to get healthy,” Young went on to say. “We’ve just got to get guys back and healthy and playing. We’re not even at our full roster and it sucks but it’s part of the NBA. I’ve got to do a better job and do more. We all do.”

Young hits on some good points here to be fair. Before getting to injury talk, Young said “I’ve got to do a better job.”

In the fourth quarter, similar to the Cavaliers game, Young struggled: 3-of-8 from the field, three assists but three turnovers too in the full 12 minutes. Many lamented Pierce for sitting Young when he did in this game but he still played 39 minutes, including all of the final quarter... I really can’t comprehend what the issue is here.

Regardless, as Young himself said, he has to be a little better in the fourth quarter than he was last night — and he will be, but worth noting that he struggled against the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter and he struggled again last night in a close game.

In addition, Young committed eight of the Hawks’ 12 turnovers on the game. Turnovers are inevitable when the ball is in someone’s hands as long as it is in Young’s but eight is too many. He did make up for that slightly with those 14 assists but eight is still too many on one game — does not make for a good assist/turnover ratio.

“Turnovers are something that’s going to come with the game,” said Young on turnovers. “You look at the leaders in turnovers every year, it’s usually guys who have the ball in their hands the most. For me, I know turnovers are going to happen but it’s the ones I can control a little better, some of the things I want to clean up. I’m still learning my teammates. This is my fourth or fifth game with Clint overall — I’m throwing it up, hitting the glass, on the backboard. It’s just stuff that’s going to get better over time.”

Let’s talk injuries.

Not only were the Hawks missing Kris Dunn (as they have all season so far) and Danilo Gallinari (as they have for most of the season so far), but the Hawks were without Bogdanovic in the fourth quarter. Hawks fans were incensed he didn’t play in the final frame, but Pierce revealed after the game that Bogdanovic suffered an ankle injury and he would not be available to return for the final period.

“‘Bogi’s out’ is what I get during a break in the game ... Bogi’s out, not returning is what I get in 48 minutes of action,” said Pierce of Bogdanovic after the game.

There were many who were flaming Pierce after this loss, and one of those reasons was because Bogdanovic didn’t play in the final quarter — it never hurts to wait and see what the deal was, perhaps there’s more going on than people realize but, often, impatience gets the better of people on these kind of things...

Alas... and it’s not like Bogdanovic was setting the game aflame last night: three points on 1-of-3 shooting from the field in nearly 19 minutes with four personal fouls. Bogdanovic has been good this season but last night just didn’t work out while he was on the court, and now this ankle injury. It remains to be seen the extent of the damage or whether Bogdanovic will miss any time. We’ll (collectively) all find out soon enough...

Time after time, you can see how the Hawks miss Dunn and what he is going to bring as well as Gallinari. As Young said, it’s been unfortunate the Hawks have been without their guys and haven’t had a chance to roll out a full strength team. That said, the chance to win both this game and Saturday’s game were right there despite those factors and the Hawks have fallen disappointingly short over the last two games.

Moving on...

Heading into last night’s game, the Knicks ranked 28th in the league in three-point attempts per game: a lot of their work comes inside the arc and in the paint, and that was the story for them last night as well — scoring 54 points in the paint, hitting just seven three-pointers (again, many of these were timely and ones we’ve already looked at).

“Their paint scoring, if you cut those in half or even in third, we win,” said Young on what needed to happen for the Hawks to win. “They got a lot of paint points. Didn’t hit too many threes. Even that last play, it was me either giving up a lob to Mitchell or Austin for a three — just wanted to play percentages. Austin hit a big three, that gave them a big boost at the end. Really just protecting the paint, we could’ve done a better job.”

Randle created all sorts of problems last night, scoring 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting from the field (11-of-14 from two), grabbing 17 rebounds, dishing out nine assists while also being credited with seven screen assists leading to 15 points.

Randle is having a fantastic season so far and no matter who the Hawks threw on him last night — whether it was Collins, Capela, Hunter, Bogdanovic — nothing slowed him down inside.

“He’s a tough matchup,” said Pierce of Randle. “We tried a couple of different looks with ‘Dre on him, to get some lateral movement, we put Clint on him to put some size on him, and John obviously started on him. We tried to blitz him a couple of times off of the cutter, but he’s a tough matchup. He hits a face-up jumper on Clint in the mid-range, hits a knock-down three, and obviously in the first half everything was through the post. We tried to throw a bunch of different looks. He’s having a tremendous year in a lot of ways with the shooting, the rebounding and the assists. We tried to mix it up as much as we could, and they ended up going away from him at the end of the game, but they hurt us in some other ways, especially the three guys off of the bench.”

Speaking of the bench, it was a struggle.

As Pierce referenced, the Knicks used just three bench players, running an eight-man rotation with their starters playing heavy minutes (Randle playing 43 minutes, Barrett playing just under 44 minutes) and Rivers obviously came in and hit some big shots but it was Quickley who was the star off of the bench for the Knicks.

We’ve looked at quite a number of plays involving Quickley so far, scoring 16 points in 18 minutes while registering a plus/minus of plus-17 on the game. Single game plus/minus can be sketchy to say the least, but I thought that plus/minus rating was reflective of the impact Quickley had off of the bench last night — he was impressive, and outscored the Hawks’ bench all on his own, 16-14.

Some minor game-notes that I’m squeezing in now we’ve got the big hitters out of the way...

The Knicks got to the foul line for 10 attempts in the final quarter, getting to the bonus with over four and a half minutes in the fourth. The Hawks, twice in this game, found themselves in the bonus in both the second and third quarters with over half of the quarter remaining, yet only got to the free throw line on six attempts in the second quarter, and seven attempts in the third quarter respectively.

Young was the big beneficiary — eight attempts in those two quarters on his way to 15 attempts — but I thought this was a missed opportunity for the Hawks to take advantage between those two quarters where they basically had a full quarter in the bonus combined. In the end, the Knicks had 25 attempts from the line, the Hawks 23 (15, as mentioned, coming from Young).

Young continues to lead the league in free throw attempts per game with 12.1, with James Harden the nearest challenger with 11.5.

Elsewhere, shooting 32% from three on the game, this was the Hawks’ worst output from three on the season so far: from a percentage standpoint and attempt standpoint with 31.

Both Huerter and Young struggled with 1-of-6 outings from three, with Young’s a bit more notable as it continues a trend. For the season, Young is shooting — underwhelmingly for his high standards — 33% on six attempts. Notable even in that are the six attempts per game, 3.5 attempts fewer than the 9.5 attempts from downtown he averaged last season. Small sample size in just seven games but certainly notable.

Ultimately, the Knicks were worth their win and the Hawks didn’t play well large stretches in this game. Cliché’s generally suck, but the Hawks didn’t put together 24 good minutes, let alone 48 minutes.

The Hawks were poor, but calling for Pierce’s job — as many were last night — is also a complete overreaction.

After a great win on the road in Brooklyn, the Hawks (4-3) have lost two games at home in disappointing fashion.

It goes without saying that the next game — a home game to wrap up this three-game homestand against the 2-5 Charlotte Hornets, who have lost three in a row themselves — is an extremely important one for the Hawks, and it takes place on Wednesday night at State Farm Arena.

Until next time...