The Hawks lost John Collins to an injury and headed into the All-Star break by falling to the Knicks 122-101 Wednesday night at State Farm Arena. The Hawks are 29-30 at the break.

Here are five observations:

1. The Hawks started slowly for the third straight game, scoring just eight points through the first eight minutes of the game while allowing the Knicks to put up 25 on 50% shooting. The Knicks were able to get whatever they wanted early in the matchup as the Hawks put up little resistance.

Julius Randle successfully called for switches that allowed him to take advantage of mismatches and score 12 points in nine minutes. He helped power New York to 37 points by the end of the first quarter, while the Hawks climbed over the 20 point threshold only after Bogdan Bogdanovic a hit a runner off a steal at the buzzer.

It’s the fifth time in six games that the Hawks have allowed their opponent to score 30 or more points in the opening quarter.

2. The Hawks tried to fight back into the game after falling behind 66-44 in the first half. They held the Knicks scoreless in the first two minutes of the third quarter, before finding some rhythm on offense to pull the game within 81-72 off a layup in traffic from AJ Griffin with 2:43 left in the quarter.

The Hawks outscored the Knicks 32-25 as De’Andre Hunter connected on all four of his field goals, scoring nine of his 20 points in the quarter. The Hawks also had a burst from Trae Young, who scored 10 points in the third, playing through contact and getting to the line six times.

But that spark that pulled them within 11 fizzled quickly as the Knicks regained control of the game. The Hawks attempted a couple more runs to hover around a 13-point deficit but the Knicks clamped down and never let up.

“We knew they were going to bring this style of play to the floor,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said. “Just, our last two games, we just looked like we were mentally, physically fried. We couldn’t hit (shots), you know, we had a lot of wide-open looks in that first quarter, that first half.”

3. Collins exited the game during the third quarter after taking an elbow to the face.

Following the game, McMillan said the team would evaluate the forward to see if he will need to go into concussion protocol.

With and without Collins, the Hawks were punished on the boards by the Knicks, who outrebounded them 55-40 and scored 20 second-chance points.

The Hawks struggled against the physicality that Randle and Isaiah Hartenstein brought in crashing the boards. As they tried to get their legs going, the Hawks couldn’t get out in time to grab the long rebounds or the ones that were chipped out of traffic. Losing Collins did not help.

4. Wednesday’s matchup against the Knicks was a big moment for the Hawks to clinch a tiebreaker against New York by winning the season series. The Hawks, though, struggled against the Knicks’ physicality and fell out of rhythm quickly as they tried to match it.

When the Hawks tried to match the Knicks’ physical play, it forced them out of rhythm. They gave up 30 fast-break points, despite turning the ball over just five times.

The Hawks knocked down 41.2% of their shots from the floor and seemed a step behind the Knicks on both ends of the floor. Though they managed to come out of the locker room with a bit more urgency, it could not make up for New York hitting several timely 3-pointers to keep the game out of reach.

Several of those daggers came off the hand of newly acquired Knicks wing Josh Hart, who made three of his five attempts from distance. New York made just 32.1% of its shots from long range.

The Knicks have moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Hawks and into sixth place after the Heat lost Wednesday.

5. The Hawks have struggled from distance against the Knicks this season. They made a season-low five 3-pointers on Wednesday as they battled the mental and physical fatigue that has seemingly caught up with them.

But the Knicks have held the Hawks under 10 3-pointers made in two of their four matchups this season, including Atlanta’s Dec. 7 loss in New York.

On Wednesday, the Hawks had plenty of the right looks as they attempted 26 triples. But they just wouldn’t fall.

“Shots weren’t falling,” McMillan said. “I think we were 0-for-10 before we even hit a 3. They were just quicker to the ball tonight.”

Stat to know

8 - The Hawks have not held a lead for eight straight quarters following losses to the Hornets and Knicks.


“But we’re gonna come back and I got faith in our team. I got trust in the team that we can make a special run. So no matter who doubts us or whatever, I got faith in my teammates.” - Trae Young on the team’s return after the All-Star break.

Up Next

The Hawks will be off for the next week and play the Cavaliers when they return on Feb. 24 at State Farm Arena.