The Knicks have been a pain in the Hawks’ butt recently. Dating back to the start of last season, they had taken 4 out of the last 5 from Atlanta, including a demoralizing 143-120 loss back in December that was not nearly as close as the score would indicate.
Cam Reddish and De’Andre Bembry remained out for Atlanta, and Clint Capela and Skal Labissiere have not been cleared quite yet to debut. However, the Hawks did get back Bruno Fernando from injury and saw a familiar face take the floor for the first time since the 2018-19 season — Dewayne Dedmon — who was acquired from Sacramento before the trade deadline.
Basketball can be referred to as a game of runs, and the Hawks made that look oh so true on Sunday evening. They started slowly in the first quarter but went on runs early in both the second and third periods, taking an 11 point lead heading into the fourth. Unfortunately, that did not mean this one would be easy. The Knicks dominated the final quarter, tying the game up as time expired. On the final possession, Trae Young missed a floater he hits 95 out of 100 times.
It seemed the Hawks had blown an excellent opportunity to win at home, facing a seven-point deficit with two minutes remaining in overtime. However, aggressive defense combined with the Knicks passive play gave Atlanta the opportunity to tie the game, and New York could not end it on their final possession, sending the game to a second OT. With new life, the Hawks took an early lead and eventually showed the Knicks how to properly put away a game — finally beating the team that has caused them so many problems over the last two years, 140-135.
It was a respectable effort from both squads. Julius Randle had a terrific game for New York, posting 32 points and 16 rebounds, and Mitchell Robinson made his presence known on the boards with a 15 and 11 performance off the bench.
For the Hawks, it was the Trae Young and John Collins show once again. Young came close to beating his career-high of 49 points, finishing just one point shy of the mark while dishing out 13 assists. He has double digits assists in 7 of his last 9 games. Collins is playing the best basketball of his career, finding his groove since returning to the court. He finished with 32 points and 16 rebounds and has had double-digit rebounds in each of his last 7 games. During that stretch, Collins is averaging 26 points and 13 rebounds per contest. His uptick in performance is a primary reason why the Hawks have been able to play .500 basketball over their last 14 games.
Dewayne Dedmon also appeared to be right back at home in his first game back with Atlanta, finishing with 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 blocks, offering Atlanta defense around the hoop that they have lacked all season long.
We will see how the Hawks can bounce back from a late-night on Sunday with a second game of a back to back tonight in Orlando.
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