Depleted Knicks snap Hawks' win streak in first matchup since playoff exit

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ATLANTA — No Kemba Walker. No Derrick Rose. No Nerlens Noel. No Taj Gibson. 

No worries. 

The depleted Knicks obtained an unbelievable victory towards their postseason nemeses, the Hawks, in a 99-90 upset Saturday evening at State Farm Area — and now they could have a point-guard controversy. 

With Walker taking a “relaxation’’ day on the second evening of a back-to-back, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau began Alec Burks at level guard, and the remaining is redemption. 

The 6-foot-6 Burks, helped by an array of younger weapons off the bench, poured in 23 factors because the Knicks seized a big, confidence-boosting victory over the membership that bounced them within the first spherical of the playoffs final June. 

In bouncing again from a hideous blowout loss Friday to the Suns, the Knicks improved to 11-9 after 20 video games and snapped the Hawks’ seven-game profitable streak. 

“We’re an incredible crew and we now have numerous depth, so I consider I can step up at any time,’’ Burks mentioned. “It was simply my evening tonight. … It’s the way in which we play. Anybody can deal with the ball at any time. That’s Thibs’ offense.’’ 

Burks hit 7 of 17 photographs, went 4-for-7 from 3-point vary and helped hassle Atlanta’s famous person level guard, Trae Younger. The Hawks (35.6 %) shot poorly and Younger’s 33 factors went to waste. 

“What Alec provides us is measurement,’’ Thibodeau mentioned. “He’s going to include the ball and his playmaking means and capturing, add all of it up. It’s lots.’’ 

Burks, who signed as a free agent in 2020 to play backup capturing guard, may discover himself with a promotion quickly, as he has been one of many hottest Knicks. Burks couldn’t bear in mind the final time he began at level guard, however mentioned he believed it was with the Jazz “a very long time in the past.’’ 

Demoting Walker could possibly be a tough promote contemplating his Bronx heritage and All-Star previous, however the beginning unit has wanted a jolt for some time. And it obtained one versus the Hawks. 

Requested if he has a choice to make on the beginning lineup, Thibodeau mentioned: “There’s all the time choices to be made. We’ll do what’s finest for the crew.’’ 

“That’s big-money AB — he’s all the time calm and picked up mot matter what,’’ mentioned RJ Barrett, who broke out of his 10-game schneid with a 15-point, seven-rebound outing. “He obtained us in our stuff. He took over within the third. He’s big-time for us. It’s nice that subsequent man up mentality. We don’t miss a beat.’’ 

Evan Fournier appeared comfy in a 20-point outing and the likes of Obi Toppin and rookie Jericho Sims supplied sparks off the bench. The Knicks didn’t get a lot from Julius Randle, who went scoreless within the first half, however dealt with the ball lots in a degree ahead function. 

Randle supplied some defensive grit within the second half and scored on a drive on the third-quarter buzzer to ship the Knicks into the ultimate interval with an 85-74 lead. 

In his second straight single-digit outing, Randle completed with eight factors, capturing 3-for-14. Randle additionally had 4 assists and 11 rebounds and Thibodeau mentioned he made “numerous good performs for us’’ due to the Hawks “overloading’’ on him. 

With the way in which Toppin is rising, there could possibly be a power-forward controversy, too. Toppin completed with 13 factors and two extra highlight-reel slams, going 5-for-8. 

The Knicks hung with the Hawks and even led 28-27 after one. Uncannily, the Knicks pulled away right into a 10-point lead with Randle on the bench — boosted by a largely younger lineup much like the one which starred in the course of the Las Vegas summer season league in August. 

Barrett joined 4 of the summer-leaguers — Immanuel Quickley, rookie Quentin Grimes, Toppin and Sims — in a single sharp alignment. 

The Knicks constructed a 10-point late within the second quarter with their younger legs. Sims registered two blocks and a put-back dunk. Grimes, on a quick break, tossed up with one hand a excessive alley-oop lob that Toppin rammed house in circus-like trend. 

In one other occasion, Quickley, who had 9 factors and 7 assists, threw a home-run ball for Toppin for a straightforward dunk forward of the sector, lifting the result in 10. It was 47-37 and all was lastly proper. 

“We have been in a position to combine and match the place we had Alec and Quickley collectively and that was actually good, together with Quentin and Obi provides us velocity we don’t have and Jericho is tremendous athletic, so we have been very fast to the ball,’’ Thibodeau mentioned. 

The Knicks misplaced their momentum, nonetheless, when Randle checked again into the sport with 2:35 left earlier than halftime. The Hawks closed the half on a 12-1 run. Younger led the surge with an extended 3-pointer and a floater and had 22 factors at halftime. The Knicks clamped down within the second half, holding the Hawks to 14 factors within the fourth quarter. 

“It was an incredible win, particularly after final evening to come back in and bounce again the second evening,’’ Barrett mentioned. 

Thibodeau had pressured the significance of responding after the loss to the Suns. 

“We performed onerous,’’ Thibodeau mentioned. That was the very first thing we wished to get established. They missed photographs they usually make however we have been flying round.’’

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