Hawks hope to stay hot against Knicks
Posted on: 15 Nov, 2023 at 07:55 AM
Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
After a lackluster start to the season, the Atlanta Hawks have a chance to earn their seventh win in nine tries when they host the New York Knicks on Wednesday.
The Hawks lost their first two games of the season, including a 126-120 home defeat against the Knicks on Oct. 27.
Atlanta has lost just twice since then, and its continued offensive success has played a major role. The Hawks are coming off a 126-120 road victory over the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday that saw them win without leading scorer Trae Young, who missed the game due to the birth of his daughter.
Filling Young's scoring absence was Dejounte Murray, who led the team with 32 points. After trailing Detroit by one point with less than two minutes remaining, Atlanta finished the game on a 10-3 run to cement its first NBA in-season tournament win.
"I thought both teams really competed," Atlanta coach Quin Snyder said. "I think it was a nod to the in-season tournament, as far as the focus and the competition goes.
"For us, it's all about our defense. Our offense has to help our defense, and I thought Dejounte on the ball tonight was maybe the biggest contribution he made. He played well."
Every Atlanta player who played Tuesday scored, including former Piston Saddiq Bey, who put up 19 points off the bench -- 11 in the fourth quarter.
The Knicks are looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristically poor defensive performance in a 16-point loss to the Celtics on Monday. New York gave up 114 points, the most it has allowed since the win over the Hawks in October.
Coach Tom Thibodeau's team prides itself on defense, a side of the ball that allowed 62 second-half points to the Celtics.
"Against them a bad minute can be 10 points, and it was," Thibodeau said. "I thought we played pretty well the first half, but we didn't protect our basket right at the end of that last minute and a half."
The Knicks finally saw a glimpse of last season's Julius Randle, who had the best scoring season of his career at 25.1 points per game. After an All-Star campaign, Randle saw his shooting dip mightily to begin the season, as he is connecting on just 33.9 percent of his shots.
In the Monday loss, Randle scored 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds and led the team with five assists.
"We have to play a little bit faster against a team like that, get downhill, drive and kick, spray, get them moving," said Randle, who shot just 7-for-19 from the floor. "In the end, it will always balance out and we will be fine."
Similar to Atlanta, New York was also without a key player as RJ Barrett was sidelined on Monday while dealing with migraines. He is listed as questionable to play on Wednesday.
The upcoming contest is the latest edition of the Atlanta-New York rivalry that was amplified in the 2021 Eastern Conference playoffs.
Since losing that best-of-seven series in five games, the Knicks have had the Hawks' number, winning six of nine matchups, including four of five in Atlanta.
--Field Level Media