Bogdan Bogdanovic led the way with 28 points, with Trae Young adding 15 points and a season-high 17 assists. For the Knicks, Julius Randle scored a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Jalen Brunson added 24 points.
The Hawks trailed the Knicks for most of this contest, with the Knicks taking a double-digit lead in the first quarter before strong contributions from Bogdanovic and Saddiq Bey in the second quarter helped pull the Hawks back into this affair. In the third quarter, the Knicks threatened to rediscover their first quarter form through Randle, but the Hawks kept matters at arm’s length.
In the fourth the Hawks went on an 11-0 run to not only give themselves a lead, but also open it up to as many as seven points leading to a Knick timeout. There were free throws in the middle of that run, but it was started and finished by Bey, a punctuation mark from Bey on the putback dunk:
The Knicks took a timeout at this juncture, and if the Hawks could have weathered what it was that came out of this timeout and get a stop, they would have been in a great place to build on their seven point lead, momentum very much in their favor.
Out of the timeout, however, the Knicks get an easy look at a three with Young chasing Immanuel Quickley — Quickley not breaking too much of a sweat to get free — and he hits the three:
Following a missed jumper by De’Andre Hunter, the Knicks come again through Quickley, who gets by Young again and goes to a runner and gets a little bit of fortune as it banks in:
The Hawks find themselves unable to reply as Dejounte Murray’s attempted pass inside results in a turnover:
Off of that, Randle drives to the rim, misses after the Clint Capela challenge forces the adjustment, but Mitchell Robinson gets on the floor to get the offensive rebound to salvage another possession. The Knicks move the ball once Mitchell eventually gets the ball out, and it ends in the hands of Brunson who drains the three to complete an 8-0 run:
This was a tough one for the Hawks. Having gone on that 11-0 run and taken a solid lead (considering where they were in this game and the margins up to this point), it was tough for the Hawks to immediately concede an 8-0 run and losing that lead — one of the game’s defining swings.
A couple of Murray jumpers nudged the Hawks ahead again before one of the more decisive plays down the stretch occurred. Randle is denied in the paint and can’t find his way past Jalen Johnson and Randle is forced to pass out to the perimeter, finding Brunson for a three-pointer:
This was a very poor defensive possession by Hunter, who inexplicably loses Brunson off the ball here — there’s no justifying this. It’s just a really costly error.
That Brunson basket gave the Knicks a one point lead and this time Murray isn’t able to reply, his layup attempt at the rim falling short:
Robinson isn’t credited with a block here, but his impact on this play is clear as was the case in the paint for most of this affair.
A Josh Hart basket is followed by a shooting foul on a three drawn by Young, and Young dispatches all three free throws to tie the game with 1:13 remaining. It wouldn’t remain tied for long as the Knicks again catch the Hawks sleeping as Brunson finds a cutting Randle for a basket:
Again, I don’t know what Hunter is doing off the ball here and why he allowed Randle to stroll in behind him at this stage of the game. It was a very costly lapse as the Knicks take the lead again.
Young would get back to the line but would split the free throws, leaving the Knick lead at one. Brunson comes off the screen on the next possession, gets to the free throw line, and rises into a jumper over Hunter to give the visitors a three point lead with 18 seconds remaining:
It’s a good shot from Brunson. I do find it ironic that this play involved the two players who were at fault or targeted defensively in the fourth in Young and Hunter.
Out of the timeout, the Hawks waste no time and the shot from Bogdanovic is a very quick one and, in the end, draws nothing but air:
Bogdanovic had the hot hand in this game but this did seem like a quick shot...but was it guaranteed to be their best shot? The Hawks were of the belief the Knicks were going to foul and prevent a three, so time was of the essence.
“We knew they were going to try foul right away,” said Young of the play. “When Bogi caught it we told him to catch-and-shoot it, not to worry about dribbling or doing anything. They stayed attached. Bogi got to look at the rim, anytime you can do that we’ll live with the result.”
There was a little late New York jeopardy in the form of a five-second violation, but a quick foul on Murray from Brunson denies any three-point attempt, and the Hawks attempt to miss the second free throw but a lane violation put-pay to that and the Hawks fall to defeat.
Postgame, Hawks head coach Quin Snyder was unhappy with how his team began and ended this game but on multiple occasions was drawn to the Knicks’ offensive rebounding.
“We obviously started the game poorly, finished the game the same way,” said Snyder. “In spite of how we started, we were there late. Our defensive glass, when they have 19 second chance points, that makes it hard. Even when we had good defensive possessions sometimes they hit a shot and you have to live with that, if it’s contested we have to do a better job on the defensive glass and obviously this team, that’s something they do. Our execution to finish possessions has told the tale tonight.”
The Knicks grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, leading to 21 second chance points with Robinson grabbing six of them. The Knicks attempted 19 more field goal attempts than the Hawks (94-75) and in a two point game that obviously makes an enormous difference.
“I think their offensive rebounding hurt us,” said Young. “A couple of moments we didn’t box out and get the cutters. They get some second chance points we allowed them to get. If we would have done that it would have been better, for sure.”
Something else Snyder alluded to was the Hawks’ slow starts, and this isn’t a new problem for this team. Under Nate McMillan, this was also an issue. Snyder implored his side to begin games with a defensive mindset before again referencing the rebounding issues as the where the game was lost.
“I think we have to begin the game with a defensive mindset,” said Snyder of starting games slow. “There was some possessions we guarded early in the game — a few breakdowns, that can happen — but when we did get stops the offensive glass was the thing that hurt us early. We had a few buckets in transition early where they ran off some turnovers but the glass, that’s where the game was. We need to rebound with five guys and make it a fight for the boards.”
Of the stretch itself, Young made mention of the defensive coverage of Randle, the made Quickley shots during the 8-0 run but also made mention of the fact he missed a free throw to leave the Knicks with a one point lead, and Young explained why this was important.
“They made more shots than us,” said Young of the fourth. “Trying to hedge out to Julius [Randle], Quickley hit a couple of shots, then they got to the line and I missed a free throw. It’s a lot easier to hit a dagger when you’re up one than when it’s tied. I gave them that feeling by missing that second free throw. That s**t’s on me.”
Young himself had a very difficult night shooting the ball, 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting and 0-of-4 from three. The Knicks’ defensive coverage of Young was intense and didn’t leave him much room for the majority of the night — the Knicks did a very good job defensively. Murray was similarly quiet: six points on 6-of-12 shooting. Snyder believed that one of the reasons for why both Young and Murray were quiet was because the Hawks weren’t able to get out in transition (after defensive stops), as well as the defensive coverage.
“We didn’t get out in transition as much as we have,” said Snyder of slowing Young and Murray. “They blitzed Trae in pick-and-roll and he was able to get off the ball. If you look at the offensive rating it was a low possession game, we scored. Those guys, there’s going to be games when they got off it (the ball) and let some other guys get shots, you saw that with Bogi, Saddiq, and Jalen. If we defend and get more stops, I don’t think we got out in transition as much as we wanted. Our offensive rating was, like, 120, that’s good enough. It’s the defensive end where we have to keep working and dig in and see where we can be better. I think we all know the glass was a big thing tonight.”
Young may not have been able to score but he was a willing passer: a season-high 17 assists for Young last night with just three turnovers. I thought there were performances out there far worse than Young, and he did shoot 7-of-9 from the line in addition to boost his points tally. Murray’s quietness was a little more confusing — it wasn’t until the fourth quarter where he became more active in this affair — but his and Young’s off night did allow others to step up.
Bogdanovic was hot, 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field, 4-of-11 from three and 8-of-8 from the free throw line — an unusual occurrence for Bogdanovic to get to the line as often as he did. He did a great balancing shooting with attacking the rim; he was aggressive on his drives and you could sense he knew he could be.
Bey also played a strong game off the bench: 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting and was a plus-20 on the game. In general, the bench was good last night and other than Wesley Matthews (who was a plus-1), the rest of the bench posted double-digit positives in plus/minus.
Johnson scored 18 points in large part thanks to his excellent outside shooting, 4-of-4 from behind the arc (7-of-9 from the field) and is now shooting 46.9% from three on 2.9 attempts per game. Speaking on media day, Johnson was particularly sure in his assessment that his three-point shooting would be better this season and his confidence so far was absolutely and correctly placed. He struggled a bit with the Randle matchup, which is to be expected, but did do well in places too.
The other bigs in Capela and Onyeka Okongwu I thought were solid, they made impact plays (had some great blocks), but the rebounding was a big issue. Snyder was not afraid to make this point several times postgame, and it indirectly throws a lot of the blame immediately at the feet of Capela and Okongwu.
De’Andre Hunter had a very anonymous game. Five points on 2-of-7 shooting, foul trouble in the first half and was responsible for a some poor defensive lapses at important moments down the stretch. Hunter was by no means the reason the Hawks lost this game but nights like this cause frustration for many fans.
If you wanted to pinpoint reasons the Hawks lost this game, here are the main ones and the fact there are this many and the only lost by two points tells another story. If you want to break it down:
- Trae Young is blitzed and double-teamed and shoots just 4-of-12 from the field and 0-of-4 from three.
- Dejounte Murray has a quiet game and scores 13 points.
- De’Andre Hunter shoots 2-of-7.
- The Hawks conceded 21 second chance points.
- The Hawks conceded 21 points off of 15 turnovers.
- The Hawks conceded 14 fastbreak points.
Those I think are your main points to examine, and the fact the Hawks lost out in all these areas and still lost by two points? It’s almost surprising it wasn’t more.
In saying that, the Hawks did do a number of things well. They shot the ball very efficiently (54.7%), attempted 26 free throws to the Knicks’ 11, 28 assists in a good night’s work moving the ball, and had 11 steals on the game.
The Knicks, to their credit, did plenty of things well too: Randle and Brunson were fantastic, and Quickley’s efforts in the third quarter en route to 20 points for the game were noteworthy. Robinson was a nightmare for the Hawks on the glass, and the second chances he helped create — while also limiting the Hawks’ own second chances — were massive. 21-4 the difference in second chance scoring.
It ultimately was the biggest factor in this game.
The Hawks (6-5) are back in action on Friday when they’ll finally get their first taste of In-Season Tournament action at State Farm Arena where they’ll take on the Philadelphia 76ers (8-3).
Should be a very entertaining affair.
Until next time...