The Atlanta Hawks went to Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night and took a win from the New York Knicks, 112-99.
Coming into this game losing their last two, it was important for the Hawks to come out and set the tone early. Against the Toronto Raptors, they fell flat in the second half as it was hard to find an offensive rhythm, and they couldn't get stops on the other end of the floor. That led to them getting blown out 139-109, and it was probably one of their worst games of the season so far.
To start this game, Atlanta looked like they were going to go through that same rough patch from a few days ago. Trae Young’s struggles carried over to this game, as he started the first quarter shooting 2-of-12 from the field. The rest of the team couldn't get much going either on offense, and the Knicks continued to knock down bucket after bucket.
At the 6:35 mark in the second quarter, the Hawks saw themselves down 58-21 and it looked like things weren't going to get better. Luckily for the Hawks, they had the two best players on the court, and when you have that, anything is possible. Young is usually the villain that quiets the crowd when he comes to New York, but tonight he passed it off to his backcourt mate Dejounte Murray, who put on a master class from the second quarter to the end of the game. Let’s take a look at some of the key plays that brought the guests back into the game.
With Murray typically not posing as a big threat from three, Jalen Brunson decides to cheat off the ball to help on De’Andre Hunter at the top of the key. Hunter makes a quick decision and passes it off to Murray, who doesn't hesitate, and steps in for the three:
As the Hawks get a stop on the other end after Murray’s three, the guard comes down and hits his second in a row, which cuts their deficit down to 17. The Hawks had a long way to go, but this was shaping up to be Murray’s quarter.
By this time, it's already evident that Murray is cooking with grease. He’s found numerous ways to get a bucket, whether it was from three or in the paint. This time, he goes to his bread and butter while working the screen with Clint Capela, and pulls up for an easy two-pointer.
Murray continues his attack on the Knicks down the stretch of the first half, and he's having fun doing so. On this play, Murray simply picks the pocket of Brunson and takes it to the rim with ease.
With Young struggling through most of the first half, all he needed was somebody that was going to make his life easier so he can see the ball go in the rim. That's exactly what Murray does here, as he grans another steal, pushes the ball down the court, and finds the best shooter on the floor for a three-pointer:
Atlanta went into halftime down eight points and had all the momentum going into the third quarter. They jumped out to a 9-0 before the Knicks scored for the first time in the third quarter at the 7:42 mark. One of the biggest reasons for that was the Hawks going into a zone defense.
“We had a day to work on it yesterday,” Nate McMillan said after the game. “Our guys were really active in that zone. I think it kind of broke their rhythm.”
With Young going down with a scratched eye in the third quarter, it was up to the rest of the Hawks to continue putting on a show against the Knicks. That wasn't hard for Murray, as he continued to stay active with his hands and create easy opportunities on offense:
Murray had eight points and two steals in the third quarter, and Atlanta found themselves with an 89-75 lead. The fourth quarter was smooth sailing, and Young made an appearance with some goggles to cover up his eye. The Knicks couldn't get their deficit to less than 10 points, and the Hawks continued their stellar second half and walked out with the win.
Murray finished the game with a career-high 36 points, Hunter finished with 21 points, Young finished with 17 points, six assists, and seven rebounds, and John Collins finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Hawks next game will be against the New Orleans Pelicans, who have been playing well so far this season, even with some injuries to a few of their players. If all goes well, this will be the first time ever that the Hawks see Zion Williamson in the regular season.