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Second half gets away from Hawks in Game 2 loss to Knicks, 101-92

NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks put together a strong performance in Game 1 of a best-of-seven clash with the New York Knicks, prevailing on a last-second floater by Trae Young. After a two-day break in the series, the Hawks and Knicks returned to the floor at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday with New York facing an increased sense of urgency and Atlanta looking to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the first round matchup. While there were plenty of positive moments, the second half swung to the Knicks, and the Hawks suffered a 101-92 defeat on the road.

In early going, it took a few possessions for the Hawks to get settled against a more aggressive Knicks defense. When they did, however, Atlanta took off to the tune of a 13-0 run that was keyed by three-point shooting from De’Andre Hunter and Danilo Gallinari, as well as playmaking from Young.

Atlanta pushed its first quarter lead to as high as 22-12, with Young carving up New York’s approach with his passing and creation.

Though Atlanta’s bench was at least slightly shaky down the stretch of the first quarter, a big dunk from Kevin Huerter allowed the visitors to take a seven-point lead after 12 minutes of game action.

The Knicks drew first blood in the second quarter, scoring seven straight points to slash their deficit to just 32-31. Young stopped that momentum with a pull-up three-pointer, then Bogdan Bogdanovic asserted himself with a trio of jumpers over a 90-second span.

Atlanta then put together a 12-1 run late in the half, with Young in the middle of it all. He knocked down a deep pull-up three-pointer, attacked the rim effectively, and scored 10 of the 12 points on his own.

The Hawks took a 13-point lead into the locker room with notable contributions on both ends. Young scored 20 points before halftime, with Bogdanovic adding 14 points and the team scoring at approximately a league-average clip in terms of overall efficiency.

Defensively, Atlanta had even more success, with a hat-tip to a struggling Knicks offense. New York shot just 29 percent from the floor and 16 percent from deep in the first half, and the Hawks also generated eight blocked shots in the first 24 minutes.

While the Hawks were in a fantastic position, the third quarter was one to forget for the visiting squad. New York began the second half with an 11-4 run after making a well-timed lineup change and, while the Hawks stabilized things, the Knicks had another punch coming. New York used a 16-2 overall run to take the lead late in the period, putting the pressure back on Atlanta with 12 minutes remaining.

The Knicks didn’t slow down there, stretching their advantage to 81-75 early in the fourth quarter. Then, after Danilo Gallinari converted a badly needed three-pointer to stop the bleeding, New York had another 7-0 run to take a 10-point edge with 8:34 remaining.

That firmly placed Atlanta on the ropes, but Huerter converted an enormous three-pointer, kickstarting a 9-0 surge that brought the Hawks back within just one point.

Eventually, the Hawks tied the game at 91-91 with a dunk from Clint Capela with 5:06 remaining. That completed a rather impressive comeback from a 10-point deficit, but Atlanta simply could not maintain the upward trajectory.

The Hawks missed their final eight shots of the game, scoring only one point in the final 5:06. New York closed on an 10-1 run as Atlanta simply couldn’t convert open looks in the final minutes.

Young was brilliant once again for the Hawks, leading the way with 30 points and seven assists. However, Young and Bogdanovic were on the bench for a (very) long stretch in the second half and, all told, Atlanta’s supporting cast didn’t do quite enough.

The Hawks finished just 12-of-44 from three-point range in the game, including 2-of-12 from long range in the fourth quarter. Atlanta also finished with just 17 assists overall, falling short of a point per possession for the full game.

With the series knotted at 1-1, the scene will now shift to Atlanta for Game 3 on Friday evening and Game 4 on Sunday afternoon.

Stay tuned.