Trae Young again delivered the coup de grace.
Silencing the boos with a fantastic showing at his favorite arena, Young dropped 45 points, including the crossover dagger, and essentially cut the final thread to the Knicks’ playoff hopes.
Young’s final field goal arrived with one minute remaining, when he sent defender Taj Gibson sprawling to the court with a crossover before burying the jumper.
But after finishing the Knicks with a Broadway bow to the MSG crowd in last year’s playoffs, Young said it wasn’t the right environment for a repeat gesture.
“Nah, we’re in the regular season,” he said.
The 117-111 result put the Knicks (30-42) six games behind the Hawks (36-36) for the final play-in spot with only 10 to play. In other words, it’s safe to purchase those nonrefundable tickets to Cancun.
Young played the role Tuesday of travel agent.
“Trae lives for these moments,” Hawks coach Nate McMillan said.
Still, the Knicks, particularly RJ Barrett, wasn’t conceding dominance to Young. Barrett noted the Knicks won the season series, 3-1, and implied the stats were a little inflated.
Young took 25 shots Tuesday.
“Trae is going to be Trae. He’s special. He’s a special talent,” Barrett said. “But also somebody who has the ball all game is going to score. That’s a given. But definitely shouldn’t have had 45.
“It’s 3-1, the series this year against them. Overall, we did a good job.”
Nearing the end of this miserable season, the Garden crowd couldn’t muster up the energy to attack Young with gusto. The boos were intermittent and the “F— Trae Young” chant never came close to the volume of the playoff series.
The Knicks, who’ve now clinched a losing season, were playing without Julius Randle, who, fresh off getting fined $40,000 for verbally abusing a ref Sunday’s previous contest, was ruled out with a bruised quad. Barrett carried the load in Randle’s absence, dropping 30 points on 9-of-25 shooting.
But he disappeared in the fourth quarter, when the Knicks squandered a 10-point advantage with nine minutes remaining. The Hawks finished on a 28-12 run and Young left the Garden smiling. Again.
“I feel like (the Hawks) just knew what they were doing,” Barrett said. “They went to specific things and they made shots. They went to their two guys (Young and Bogdan Bogdanovic) that were hot and they closed the game out.”
The Knicks aren’t yet mathematically eliminated, as Tom Thibodeau noted postgame. But even the coach didn’t sound convincing about the prospects.
“The position we’re in, they’re all must-have games. So that’s it,” he said. “But you’re not eliminated until you’re eliminated.”
Source: Berkshire mont