Less than 24 hours after leaving the court at State Farm Arena, the Atlanta Hawks visited Madison Square Garden to face the New York Knicks on Wednesday evening. With the two teams battling for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference, the stakes were high on both sides with sole possession of the No. 4 seed on the line, and Atlanta was also aiming to continue a hot streak with nine wins in the previous 11 games. Late in the third quarter, however, the focus shifted away from a high-profile game and to an injury for Trae Young, and the Hawks fell just short in overtime by a final score of 137-127.
The Hawks started on a positive note, leading 7-3, but the Knicks balanced the scales from there, largely based on hot shooting. Effective offense drove things on both sides, and New York took a 19-13 lead after making their first five three-point attempts.
Atlanta did settle in, using a 17-2 run to take a 30-21 lead by attacking the paint with pointed efficiency.
Young was the headliner in the opening quarter, scoring 16 points and dishing out five assists while playing the entire 12-minute period.
The Hawks led by a five-point margin at the end of the first quarter, riding Young’s explosive play and seven steals, the second-most for Atlanta in any quarter this season.
New York didn’t fade away in the second quarter, however, and the Hawks needed to continue making plays offensively. John Collins got into the act with another reminder that he has some of the best touch in the NBA around the rim.
Clint Capela also had a productive half, scoring 12 points and grabbing eight rebounds, and Young’s penetration opened things up for Atlanta’s play finishers.
The Knicks led by as many as four points in the latter stages of the half, but Kevin Huerter had other ideas. The third-year wing scored the final seven points of the second quarter — all in just 67 seconds — and that gave Atlanta a two-point lead at the break.
Let's recap the end of the half:— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) April 22, 2021
Bucket by Kevin.
Bucket by Kevin.
Bucket by Kevin. pic.twitter.com/SvKxy4Guu0
Young led the way with 18 points and 10 assists in the first half, and Huerter supported with 16 points of his own. As a team, Atlanta generated 17 assists to just four turnovers, and they took full advantage of New York’s 11 giveaways, scoring 17 points off turnovers. Still, the Knicks made 10 three-pointers in the first half, keeping things close as the third quarter arrived.
As they did in the first half, the Hawks started well in the third quarter, using an 11-4 run to take a nine-point lead. Part of that push came when Young found Collins to beat the Knicks defense down the floor and generate the third foul on Randle.
New York threw a bit of a counterpunch, but Atlanta took it and kept coming, pushing the lead out to 91-81 by the four-minute mark of the third quarter.
This.— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) April 22, 2021
Unfortunately, the biggest story of the third quarter was still to come, and it was not a positive one for the Hawks. Young suffered what the Hawks are calling a left ankle sprain at the 1:13 mark of the third quarter, and he was quickly ruled out for the night after being helped to the locker room.
Trae exited the game with what appeared to be a left leg injury. pic.twitter.com/Dxl8JHKMIa— Bally Sports: Hawks (@HawksOnBally) April 22, 2021
Young’s injury cast a long shadow over the remainder of the game, and the Hawks lost their lead in short order when he exited. In fact, the Knicks scored 15 consecutive points to take a 116-109 lead with under four minutes to go, leaving Atlanta in a perilous position.
The Hawks would fight back in admirable fashion, however, with Collins knocking down a game-tying three-pointer to complete the mini-comeback. Atlanta needed another minor miracle to create overtime, but Bogdan Bogdanovic met the challenge, using a Capela screen to bury a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds.
Simply creating overtime — especially after losing Young and trailing by seven points — was impressive by the Hawks, but the visitors seemingly ran out of gas in overtime. New York scored the first 10 points of the extra frame, putting the Hawks in a tough spot, and there was no miraculous comeback this time around.
Capela led the way with 25 points and 22 rebounds, with Bogdanovic (20 points), Collins (18 points) and Huerter (17 points) contributing at a high level. Young produced 20 points and 14 assists before exiting, though all of the attention at this point will be on his injury prognosis.
Overall, this is a tough loss for Atlanta. They led by eight points when Young exited and, despite a heck of an effort, the Hawks dropped a game to a team they are directly competing with in the playoff chase.
Following the back-to-back, the Hawks will have Thursday off before returning to action on Friday with a home tilt against the Miami Heat. In between, the focus will be on Young’s ankle, and the Hawks must hold their breath that the injury is as minor as possible.