The Hawks struggled to set the tone on the defensive end, allowing the Knicks to shoot 50% from the floor in the first quarter.
What really burned the Hawks, though, was the Knicks’ efficiency from 3. They made 66.7% of their shots from long range.
The Hawks just could not contain the Knicks inside as they went on to bury 45.7% from distance.
Both Julius Randle and Quentin Grimes decimated the Hawks beyond the arc, with the two combining for 11 of the Knicks’ 17 made 3-pointers. Randle scored 34 points in 32 minutes, while grabbing 17 rebounds. Grimes added a season-high 23 points.
2. The Hawks briefly found a defensive spark off of their second unit toward the end of the first and beginning of the second quarters. Behind Jarrett Culver’s defense, the Hawks managed to slow Randle briefly.
With Randle on the bench, the second unit pulled the Hawks within 38-37. The Hawks used their defense to generate offense and go on a 17-0 run over a four-minute stretch.
Five different players scored in that stretch as they got the ball moving to keep the Knicks’ defense off balance.
3. That spark in the second quarter proved short lived as the Knicks’ starters returned to the floor. They ended the first half on a 15-4 run to take an eight-point lead into the half and never looked back.
With the Knicks shooting well from outside, the Hawks just couldn’t keep pace as they tried to attack the paint. They outscored the Knicks 46-36 on the inside but they made just six of their 36 (16.7%) 3-point attempts to put up their least efficient night from distance.
“They were making a lot of threes tonight,” said Trae Young, who scored 19 points and had four rebounds and six assists. “In the past we shrunk the paint and (did) not let them get into the paint and just kind of wanted to make them take contested and more threes ... that’s why we were more in the zone, and it worked for us last game. Tonight, they were knocking down a lot of threes. Julius [Randle] made a lot of them and got going. ... Quentin [Grimes] made some open threes and they just kind of got going after that.”
4. With the Hawks down three starters following Murray’s exit, the team needed to take a next-man up approach. The Hawks ran into some trouble throughout the night as they tried to navigate their rotations to try and find ideal matchups for the players that were available.
It was made all the more complicated with Jalen Johnson running into some foul trouble in the second quarter. Johnson had the tall task of primarily guarding Randle. The Knicks veteran took advantage of the fact that Johnson already had two fouls in the first quarter and initiated contact whenever he could.
Johnson’s foul trouble forced the Hawks to dip a little further into their rotation. The Hawks try to keep their rotation to nine players throughout the night but subbed in as many as 11 players.
Coach Nate McMillan made it a point to tell the 20-year-old to keep his head up and keep working.
“Continue to play,” McMillan said. “And offensively, when you get your opportunity, shoot the ball. You know we can’t be hesitant out there when we get opportunities.”
5. The Knicks out-rebounded the Hawks 55-39, which helped them to capitalize on second-chance opportunities. The Hawks gave up 13 offensive rebounds, and the Knicks scored 20 points off them.
Stat to know
The Hawks give up an average of 14.1 second-chance points, the 11th most in the league.
“I mean its tough. He is a big part of our team. He has the ball a lot in his hands. He makes plays. So it’s tough whenever he goes out early in the game and you kind of have to adjust ... next man has got to step up and make plays. So, it is nothing that anyone can feel sorry for us about.” – Trae Young on losing Dejounte Murray early in the game.
The Hawks remain in New York for another two days and face the Nets on Friday.