John Collins was MIA for Hawks in Game 2

New York Knicks' Derrick Rose (4) makes a 3-point shot as Atlanta Hawks' Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) defends during the fourth quarter of Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York. (Elsa/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
New York Knicks' Derrick Rose (4) makes a 3-point shot as Atlanta Hawks' Bogdan Bogdanovic (13) defends during the fourth quarter of Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York. (Elsa/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: AP

John Collins scored as many points as you did Wednesday night vs. the New York Knicks. Trust us, he was there at Madison Square Garden for Game 2 of the Hawks’ now-tied playoff series – the official box score said so. But visual confirmation was difficult.

Rendered largely invisible by nagging foul trouble, the Hawks’ frontcourt leader was on the court for only 14:38 on Wednesday, about half his season average. About the best that could be said of Collins’ evening: He had a seat that a lot of people would have paid good money for.

In his scarce playing time, Collins managed not a single foray to the basket and only two errant 3-point attempts. Two rebounds, a steal and a turnover rounded out his undernourished stat line.

Scoreless? John Collins? Impossible. In four seasons, the man had played in 239 NBA games and never not at least chipped in a couple of points. This was an uncharted void for him.

A 17-point-a-game guy going for naught? A regular 56% shooter unable to employ all that length and all that springiness for one good look anywhere inside the arc?

“That was pretty big for us,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said following the Hawks’ 101-92 loss. “He was in foul trouble all night. That put a lot of minutes on a few other guys. ... He could just never get in a rhythm tonight.”

The game was less than two minutes old when Collins picked up his second foul and was subbed out for the rest of the first quarter. He managed but the first minute in the second quarter before picking up a third foul, pretty much ending his half. He spaced fouls 3, 4 and 5 throughout the second half, but they weighed him down nonetheless.

Collins was not part of the Hawks’ postgame Zoom press conference. Trae Young was, and said of his teammate’s troubles, “Of course, it was tough. He’s a big part of our team, a big piece to our success.

“Obviously he wasn’t scoring the ball tonight. The fouls were kind of getting to him. He really wanted to be out there for us. I know he was kind of frustrated. I know he’s going to be watching a lot of film on those fouls because he wants to be out there with us. And we need him out there with us if we want to be able to compete.”

In fairness, points were hard to come by all throughout the Hawks’ frontcourt.

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Hawks' Danilo Gallinari walks off the court after the team's 101-92 loss to the New York Knicks in Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York. (Elsa/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: AP

Atlanta Hawks' Danilo Gallinari walks off the court after the team's 101-92 loss to the New York Knicks in Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York. (Elsa/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: AP

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta Hawks' Danilo Gallinari walks off the court after the team's 101-92 loss to the New York Knicks in Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Wednesday, May 26, 2021, in New York. (Elsa/Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Getting additional playing time because of Collins’ foul trouble, Danilo Gallinari struggled to find his shot for a second game against the Knicks. He just hasn’t been the same since getting the mohawk haircut. He shot 2-for-10 on Wednesday and is 5-for-21 (24%) early in this postseason. He averaged 13 points per game on 41% shooting from 3-point range this season.

“I thought he had some open looks,” McMillan said of Gallinari. “Those are shots he normally knocks down.

“We want him to continue to be aggressive and take those shots. He hasn’t shot the ball well the last two games. We’re getting good looks and as long as we continue getting those good looks, we want to continue to get the ball out to those guys. We got to knock down shots when we get open looks.”

From closer range, Clint Capela, a 15-point-a-game guy during the season, managed only four points.

As the Hawks were getting outscored 57-35 in the second half, the trio of Collins, Capela and Gallinari combined for seven points.

There will be ample discussion about who wasn’t on the court as the Knicks made their winning statement in the late third, early fourth quarter Wednesday. That would be both Trae Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic, coach’s decision.

But Collins’ absence, too, was keenly felt.