Second half comeback lifts Knicks past Hawks 101-92, even series 1-1
After a heartbreaking loss in game 1, New York bounced back last night but it wasn’t easy. Trailing by 15 points, seconds before halftime, the Knicks made a strong comeback in the third quarter that continued during the fourth and won their first playoff game since May 16, 2013, defeating the Hawks 101-92 in the second game of the first round series to tie it 1-1.
Coach Thibodeau’s adjustments from game one were obvious. Elfrid Payton played just 5 minutes and the lead was handed to Derrick Rose. The 32 year old veteran scored a team high 26 points in 39 minutes off the bench and in spite of shooting a bellow-the-average 9-21 from the field, he inspired the rest of the team to take the W.
But Rose was just one of the wheels in the spinning system. His former team-mate from the past decade Bulls days, Taj Gibson, was another factor that turned the balance in the favor of the home team. Gibson’s playoff experience and his presence on the defense, his will to fight for every loose ball was a decisive detail. Taj finished with 6 points, 7 rebounds and a game high plus- of 23 and alongside Rose, combined 69 minutes.
Julius Randle struggled badly in the first half, shooting 0-6 from the field and logging just a couple of points at halftime. At that point it was a career low. But the Most Improved Player came back in the second half stronger and finished with 15 points and 12 boards.
“I never doubted it, throughout the game. There’s going to be frustrations but who we are as a team. We’re never going to doubt whether we can win a game or not. A lot of guys came into the half saying we’ve been in this position before.”
– Julius Randle
One of the nicest parts of the story involves rookie Obi Toppin whose 8 points in 12 minutes off the bench, including an amazing alley-oop, electrified the Garden that started chanting his name. His mother, attending the game was in tears.
Reggie Bullock scored 15 points shooting 5-8 from the field, RJ Barrett dropped 13 buckets and Alec Burks finished with 11 points.
Overall, both teams shot bad. The Knicks were slightly better with 38.3% to Hawks’ 36.9%. But the difference was made by the defense, in pure 90s style. 54 boards collected by New York and 8 steals to just 41 and 5 by Atlanta.
The Hawks, who blocked the Knicks 12 times were led by Trae Young’s 30 points – which seems to be the norm for him. Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter scored 18 buckets each while Kevin Huerter dropped 10 off the bench.
Young was welcomed by the crowd with similar chants as in game one and was booed every time he touched the ball as early as the warm-ups began. As the game came to an end he delivered another message to the crowd, “I’ll see you in the A“.
Game 3 of the series will take place in Atlanta on Friday the 28th from 7:00 pm.