ATLANTA – – Trae Young wanted to make a big impression on his first trip to the playoffs.
It’s going as he had planned.
Shaking off a horrific spitting incident at Madison Square Garden, Young dazzled in the first home playoff game of his career, scoring 21 points and distributing 14 assists to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 105-94 victory over the New York Knicks in the third game. of their first-round series Friday night.
“I feel like I’ve prepared my whole life for these days, these moments,” he said.
Spurred on by a boisterous crowd of 15,743, by far the largest in Atlanta this season, the Hawks took a 2-1 lead in the Top Seven series.
Game 4 is Sunday in Atlanta.
It was tight for much of the first half, but the Hawks closed the second quarter on a Young-powered race, 22-5 which sent the arena into an uproar.
“He doesn’t really have a weakness,” said interim coach Nate McMillan. “He takes what the defense gives him. He does a good job of finding the open man when the defense crumbles into the paint. When they don’t, he attacks and ends up at the rim.
In Game 1, Young touched the winning basket to silence the crowd in Madison Square Garden’s first playoff contest since 2013. He shone again during the push that essentially decided the most lopsided game of the series, having a hand in 18 of 22 points.
Young himself scored five points, scoring a 3 and a jump back, but spent most of his time moving around the pitch, creation for teammates.
A lob goes to John Collins for a thunderous dunk. A pass to prepare Collins for an Open 3. Another alley at Clint Capela for a slam that prompted both players to unleash emphatic cries. An owl passes to find Bogdan Bogdanovic all alone for a 3. And, finally, one more dish to set up De’Andre Hunter’s sweater beyond the arc.
“It’s awesome,” Young said. “This is my first home experience in the playoffs. I can’t wait to have a lot more.”
The Hawks were leading 58-44 at the half. The Knicks have never had a margin lower than double digits in the last two quarters.
During Game 2 in New York, a Knicks fan spat at Young as he returned the ball in the fourth quarter of a tight competition – one of three incidents in hours in NBA arenas in across the country, renewing calls for increased security and other measures to deal with unruly fans.
A total of five fans in New York City, Philadelphia and Utah have been banned from gambling for their misconduct.
With Young spreading wealth, the Hawks put their depth to good use. Seven players scored in double digits, including Collins with 14 points after being held scoreless in Game 2 as he faced fouling issues.
Meanwhile, Knicks All-Star player Julius Randle had another rough night and was constantly rocked to chants of “Overrated!” Surprise! Surprise! “
“We only had one bad streak in the second quarter,” said Randle. “It was the difference in the game.”
As the Hawks sagged on him in the lane and made every look difficult, Randle was limited to 14 points on 2 of 15 shots. For the series, he only made 13 of 54 on the field.
“We have to adapt,” Randle said, “and we will.”
In his first start of the series, Derrick Rose led the Knicks with 30 points. He made 13 of 21 shots, but his teammates combined to make just 16 of 60.
“If you don’t play with a shooting team like this, you won’t stand a chance of winning the game,” Rose said.
Knicks: Rose found out on the morning visit that he would start after averaging 21.5 points off the bench in the first two games. He scored 11 of New York’s first 19 points on the way to his best performance in the series. … The Knicks went 13 of 13 to the foul line in the first quarter and finished 27 of 30.
Hawks: Kevin Huerter was called up for a flagrant foul on Nerlens Noel at the end of the first quarter. … Atlanta did a much better job on the boards after being passed 54-41 in Game 2. NBA rebounding champion Capela led the way with 12. … Danilo Gallinari made his four 3-point attempts .
Shortly before the announcement, Young spoke for the first time about the spitting incident at a brief field interview with ESPN.
He said he had no problem with what fans say or chant, but added that spitting is “unwarranted in any arena or environment.”
“I don’t know if it got on my jersey or my shorts or what, but I didn’t feel it,” Young said. “I saw the video, and it’s disgusting.”
Capela waved a finger, at Hall of Famer and former Hawk star Dikembe Mutombo, after a block on Randle in the dying minutes.
“I just wanted to make a statement there,” Capela said. “Excite the fans. “
For their first home playoff game since 2017, the Hawks opened almost every seat at State Farm Arena.
The team limited its capacity to around 3,000 during the regular season due to the pandemic and initially planned to increase it to around 7,600 for the playoffs.
But, as more teams announced their intention to fill the bulk of their postseason seats, the Hawks quickly followed suit. They set up a setup with vaccinated and unvaccinated sections, allowing for a nearly full hall in the 16,888-seat arena.
“I thought our guys fed on it,” McMillan said. “There was a lot of energy in the building.
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