The Atlanta Hawks entered Monday night’s contest against the New York Knicks in need of a victory. At times, it seemed as if that win could materialize, but the Knicks put together one of their best offensive nights of the season, and Atlanta fell by a final score of 123-112 at Madison Square Garden.
Atlanta scuffled out of the gate on both ends. The Hawks missed their first three shots and, with the Knicks starting red-hot, New York took a 16-5 lead. That includes three straight long-range connections from the Knicks and, in general, the opening quarter was marked by the home team catching fire. Atlanta hung around with quality offense, including a three-shot barrage from Skylar Mays and an unexpected baseline dunk from Solomon Hill.
Solomon Smash❗️@SoloHill | @ATLHawks pic.twitter.com/5xMXWKMPzY— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 16, 2021
In the second quarter, the Knicks (finally) cooled off a bit, shooting just 7-of-19 from the floor, and that opened the door for the Hawks. Atlanta chipped away slowly, heavily using the free throw line to their advantage, and Danilo Gallinari buried a three-pointer to cut the margin to one.
☔️ Gallo ☔️ pic.twitter.com/AXzdkqb9Gr— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) February 16, 2021
After trailing by as many as 14 points, the Hawks went into the locker room down by only three points, and that felt like a victory. Atlanta’s offense maintained big-time efficiency, scoring nearly 1.4 points per possession, and the attempted 25 free throws, including 17 in the second quarter alone. Trae Young led the way with 16 points, with 12 points for John Collins and 11 for Gallinari off the bench.
In direct contrast to beginning of the night, the Hawks excelled at the start of the third quarter, scoring the first nine points of the second half to take a 72-66 lead.
#CamCuts ✂️ pic.twitter.com/WVblwFxLUw— FOX Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnFSSE) February 16, 2021
ONE-HANDED JAMS pic.twitter.com/5g50v851oB— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) February 16, 2021
That start was certainly encouraging, but the Knicks countered with a big push of their own. The biggest swing was a 15-2 spurt by New York to take an 89-83 lead and, when the third quarter buzzer sounded, the Hawks were down by five points.
Things were wobbling early in the fourth with Young on the bench, but two three-pointers from Mays and Gallinari helped to keep the team in touch. Much of the fourth quarter was a slog on both sides, including a stretch of nearly three minutes in which the two teams combined for only two points.
Atlanta trailed as crunch time arrived, coming out of a timeout at the 5:22 mark with a 107-102 deficit. While the Hawks had opportunities to pull out the victory, the Knicks — and particularly Julius Randle — had other plans. Randle finished with 44 points and a career-high seven three-pointers, leading the Knicks to an explosive offensive effort that featured a season-high 17 three-pointers for the team.
Six players scored in double figures for the Hawks. Young (23 points, eight assists) led the way, with Collins (19 points) and Capela (15 points, 18 rebounds) providing support. As a team, the Hawks scored nearly 1.2 points per possession, which should be enough to win, but New York’s shot-making was too much to overcome.
The Hawks will now travel to Boston to face the Celtics on both Wednesday and Friday evenings.