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The Knicks’ play-in hopes were all but dashed after the loss to Hawks

Trae Young once again did a masterful job of showing the Knicks and their fans.

The 2021 postseason villain and his Hawks essentially ended the Knicks’ season for the second straight season, silencing the booing Garden crowd with 45 points and eight assists in Tuesday night’s 117-111 win to keep the Knicks forever closer to mathematical elimination.

RJ Barrett couldn’t quite keep up with Young in the absence of top scorer Julius Randle, finishing with 30 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who are now six games behind No. 10 Atlanta for the last play-in berth in the Eastern Conference only reach 10 to play.

“The position we are in is all the games you have to have. That was it. But you’re not out until you’re out, so keep fighting,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “[Young’s] Ability will command two [defenders] on the ball and we didn’t finish our defense.”

Of course, Young Atlanta led to a five-game win over the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs last spring. He heard profane chants aimed at him during the Garden’s three postseason games, but noted that Tuesday’s crowd reaction “definitely wasn’t as loud as it was in the playoffs.”

Trae Young, who scored 45 points, shoots during the Knicks' 117-111 loss to the Hawks.
Trae Young, who scored 45 points, shoots during the Knicks’ 117-111 loss to the Hawks.
Jason scenes

But the closest one of the Hawks came to goading the Knicks or the MSG crowd was Clint Capela wagging his index finger — a la Dikembe Mutombo — at Mitchell Robinson after a blocked shot in the first half.

“We knew we had to come up here and do business first, so that was my main priority,” Young said. “I think from the swag and what we were able to do on the court tonight and the energy we had in the huddle, I knew we were against everyone.”

The two-time All-Star did not compete in the Christmas competition in New York this season due to COVID-19. The Knicks won that matchup via a triple-double from Kemba Walker, the guard since the shutdown, and they also attended two games in Atlanta on November 27 and January 15.

RJ Barrett, who scored 30 points, makes a move on Trae Young during the Knicks loss.
RJ Barrett, who scored 30 points, makes a move on Trae Young during the Knicks loss.
Jason scenes

“You know Trae will be Trae. Of course he’s something special. Special talent,” said Barrett. “Also, someone who has the ball the whole game will score. That’s a given. But he definitely shouldn’t have been 45 or whatever.

“It was 3-1, that [season] Series this year, so overall we’ve done a good job. But today was definitely tough.”

With Randle out with a common quadriceps injury, those clamoring for 2020 lottery winner Obi Toppin to get more minutes have their wish of at least one game granted. Toppin flushed multiple dunks and finished his third start of the season with 10 points in 24 minutes.

Julius Randle, who missed the game with a sore right quadriceps tendon, watches the Knicks' loss.
Julius Randle, who missed the game with a sore right quadriceps tendon, watches the Knicks’ loss.
Jason scenes

Alec Burks also contributed 21 points and Immanuel Quickley had 17 for the Knicks, who fell to 30-42 to set a losing record after last year’s 41-31 resurgence. Bogdan Bogdanovic assisted Young by scoring 32 for the Hawks (36-36).

Without Randle, the offense ran mostly through Barrett, and the Knicks held a 12-point lead midway through the second quarter. But Young finished the half with 24 — including four 3-pointers — as the Hawks went 64-58 at the break.

The Knicks used a 23-10 run in the third to secure an 85-83 advantage, and when Young sat down to start the fourth, they built their lead to 10 to 3 points from Quickley and rookie Miles McBride out. But Bogdanovic scored eight points in a 13-4 rush in Atlanta to close the gap back to one, and Young struck from long-range for a 105-105 game with just under three minutes to go.

Subsequent 3-pointers from Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter and two more buckets from Young brought the tie and brought the Knicks – who shot 14 to 26 from the free-throw line – back at six with 1:04 to go.

“There was a sense of urgency throughout the year. We only fight. We’re going to do that,” Barrett said. “Since the All-Star break, we’ve been playing honestly great basketball. We’ve missed some of those games, but there’s nothing we can do but get better every day.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/22/knicks-play-in-hopes-all-but-dashed-after-loss-to-hawks/ The Knicks’ play-in hopes were all but dashed after the loss to Hawks

JOE HERNANDEZ

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