On Sunday night, the New York Knicks got a glimpse at the player who could have been their centerpiece for most or all of the remainder of the decade.
On Wednesday night, the Knicks get to see the player who looks like he could torment them for most or all of the remainder of the decade.
Both the Knicks and the Atlanta Hawks will look to end two-game losing streaks and bounce back from lopsided losses Wednesday night when they meet in New York.
The Knicks have been off since Sunday, when they squandered a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and fell to Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers, 121-108. The Hawks were routed Monday by the host Toronto Raptors, who rolled to a 139-109 win.
Watching Mitchell score 38 points and collect a career-high 12 assists served to remind the Knicks what might have been if they’d acquired the Westchester County native. Mitchell was linked to his hometown team while being dangled in trade talks by the Utah Jazz throughout the summer.
After talks stalled with the Knicks, the Jazz traded Mitchell to the Cavaliers for a package that included a trio of players as well as unprotected first-round picks in 2025, 2027 and 2029. Cleveland has started 5-1 with Mitchell, who is averaging a career-high 32.2 points per game.
“I’m happy to be here,” Mitchell said Sunday. “It’s over with.”
Not over are the Knicks’ fourth-quarter woes. New York’s playoff hopes last season evaporated in February when they lost six straight games in which they held a double-digit lead. On Sunday, they were outscored 37-15 in the final period and have been outscored 160-137 in the fourth quarter this season.
“We have to understand the intensity of the fourth quarter,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We have to do better and we will.”
The Hawks had a postgame meeting after their lopsided loss to the Raptors. Atlanta held a handful of small leads in the second period and was down 70-69 a little less than four minutes into the third but got outscored 69-40 the rest of the way and trailed by as many as 35 points in the final minutes.
“We weren’t ready to play and we got our (rear ends) kicked,” said Hawks guard Dejounte Murray, who scored a team-high 20 points.
Star guard Trae Young, who scored a season-high 42 points in Saturday’s 123-115 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, set season lows with 14 points and 13 field-goal attempts Monday.
The sight of the Knicks normally energizes Young, who is averaging 28.7 points and 9.4 assists in 13 regular-season games against New York. Those figures are higher than his overall averages of 25.4 points and 9.1 assists in 287 regular-season games.
The Hawks are just 3-10 in Young’s 13 regular season games against the Knicks. But Young was the sparkplug in Atlanta’s five-game win over New York in an Eastern Conference first-round series in 2021, when he averaged 29.2 points and 9.8 assists.
–Field Level Media