The Hawks returned home Wednesday but lost to the Knicks 116-114.

Here are five observations:

1. It was a back-and-forth affair late that came down to the final minute. How it unfolded:

Hawks guard Trae Young was fouled on a 3-point attempt at the 1:13 mark and made three free throws to tie the game at 110. After Julius Randle put the Knicks back ahead, Young hit one of two free throws. Knicks guard Jalen Brunson followed with a jumper that made it 114-111 with 18.8 seconds remaining.

Hawks guard Dejounte Murray scored a quick two to cut the deficit to one. After two Knicks three throws, Bogdan Bogdanovic, who’d scored 28 points on good efficiency, airballed the potential game-tying three. The Knicks turned it over, taking too long to inbound. Murray made one free throw, then the Hawks were called for a lane violation on the second attempt (which Murray was intentionally missing).

“I missed the free throw,” Young said, citing his miscue before Brunson’s shot. “It’s a lot easier to hit a dagger, a big shot, whenever you’re up one than when it’s tied. So I gave them that (opportunity) by missing that second free throw. That (stuff) is on me.”

2. The Hawks entered the night with statistically the worst first-quarter defense in the NBA, which included surrendering 32.5 points in the opening 12 minutes. It didn’t get any better against the Knicks. The Hawks were down 33-22 after the first quarter. Their bench helped them back into the game and even build a seven-point advantage in the fourth quarter, but they’ve simply played from behind early too often.

“I just think we have to begin the game with a defensive mindset,” Hawks coach Quin Snyder said. “When we did get stops, the offensive glass was the thing that hurt us early. We had a few buckets in transition where they ran off some turnovers, but the glass is what the game is. We need to rebound with five guys and fight for the boards.”

The Hawks were outrebounded 42-30, including 14-6 in offensive boards. That’s how a team loses despite shooting 54.7% opposed to the Knicks’ 47.9% from the field.

3. Forward Jalen Johnson has been among the better developments of the Hawks’ season so far, taking a major leap that could alter the team’s short-and-long-term outlook. He scored 18 points on 7 of 9 shooting from the field, including an encouraging 4-for-4 on threes.

“My teammates were finding me in the right spots,” Johnson said. “And I’m shooting my shots with confidence.”

Johnson is shooting 39.3% on 3-pointers to begin this campaign. It’s early, but he’s shown massive improvement (Johnson shot 28.8% on threes last season).

4. Young returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game in Detroit due to personal reasons. He and wife Shelby Miller announced the birth of their second child Monday.

“Feeling good,” Young said. “Would’ve been feeling a lot better if we won, but feel great. Feel blessed. Our baby is healthy. I’m about to go back to the hospital. Everybody is healthy and good.”

Young shot 4-for-12 for 15 points, an underwhelming performance by his standards. He did a nice job creating for his teammates though and racked up 17 assists.

5. The Hawks’ matchups with the Knicks carry a bit more importance given where both teams are expected to finish. Both are in the middle tier of the Eastern Conference trying to earn homecourt in the first round (a top-four seed) and avoid the play-in tournament (seeds six through 10). The Hawks are 0-2 against the Knicks and have one more meeting in New York on March 5.

Stat to know

21-4 -- The Hawks were outscored 21-4 in second-chance points.


“We obviously started the game poorly and we finished the game the same way.” – Snyder

Up next

The Hawks host the 76ers on Friday in their second game of the in-season tournament. The Hawks are 1-0 in tournament play after defeating the Pistons on Tuesday.