Derrick Rose, Knicks Rally Past Trae Young, Hawks in Game 2 to Even Series

Blake SchusterContributor IMay 27, 2021

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 26: Julius Randle #30 of the New York Knicks dunks the ball against the Atlanta Hawks  during Round 1, Game 2 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on May 26, 2021 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

For the first time since 2013, the New York Knicks have won a postseason game, and Madison Square Garden celebrated accordingly.

A 101-92 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals knotted the first-round series at 1-1 and sent the crowd of 15,000—the largest in the NBA this season—into a frenzy.

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CHILLS.<br><br>WELCOME TO THE MSG PARTY<br><br>(via @nyknicks)pic.twitter.com/QEv4lk4abi


D ROSE HAS THE GARDEN ROCKIN pic.twitter.com/G3nnk6WNcQ

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MSG IS LIVE 🔥<br> <br>We've got a good one. pic.twitter.com/GHxN4v82Cq

It's the first home playoff win for New York since the Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2013. Sandwiched between those wins were seven consecutive losing seasons, seven head coaches and numerous whiffs in free agency.

That all became part of the past Wednesday as the league's Most Improved Player, Julius Randle, notched 15 points and 12 rebounds to help New York earn the win.

Notable Performers

Julius Randle, PF, New York Knicks: 15 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists 

Derrick Rose, PG, New York Knicks: 26 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists

Trae Young, PG, Atlanta Hawks: 30 points, 7 assists

Bogdan Bogdanovic, SG, Atlanta Hawks: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks

Rose Sparks Knicks' Second-Half Surge

From the looks of the first half, the Knicks didn't have any chance battling with the Hawks through a best-of-seven series let alone a single game. Randle went 0-of-6 with just two points while New York watched shot after shot clank off the rim. 

At the same time, Trae Young went off for 20 points in the first half as Atlanta took a 57-44 lead into the break. 

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Julius Randle shot 0-6 from the field in the first half against the Hawks.<br><br>That is the most missed shots without a make in any half of his career. pic.twitter.com/5e4nSQf0q2

That's when Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau decided to scrap his original gameplan and try something different. The first-year Knicks coach benched starters Elfrid Payton and Nerlens Noel to start the third quarter and instead went with two players who were mainstays of his rotation nearly a decade ago with the Chicago Bulls: Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson. 


D-Rose (26 PTS) was dialed in as the Knicks leveled their series with the Hawks ♨️ pic.twitter.com/5Aca4a8T9w

jason c. @netw3rk

thibs has a rep of doubling and tripling down but he adapted tonight. didnt start payton in the second half, gave the bench extra run, new lineups to close out the game.

Speaking to the TNT broadcast after the win, Rose said Thibodeau stood up in the locker room and announced he was starting the second half in front of the whole team. That changed the energy in the locker room, which quickly spread to the fans in the building. 

The move began to pan-out immediately. Rose immediately found Randle alone for a three-pointer to open the half, ensuring the team's MVP wouldn't stay cold from the field any longer, then the guard sliced through the Hawks defense for an easy look at the rim before drilling a three-pointer of his own. 


STRONG TAKE JU pic.twitter.com/16DDD8d8WV


DERRICK ROSE FROM DOWNTOWN.<br><br>He's got 22 on the night. Keep pushing. pic.twitter.com/GBwUmWwDfT

This wasn't Rose throwing his game back to his MVP season in 2011, it was Rose trusting his teammates and playing within himself to spread Atlanta's defense thin.

"Proper preparation prevents poor performance," Rose told TNT. "And I'm always making sure I'm prepared." 


It starts on defense.<br><br>Taj block ➡️ Obi triple pic.twitter.com/gmwF1of3tI

Based on the way he sparked the Knicks in Game 2, he may want to prepare for a larger role in Game 3. If Thibodeau decides to continue with Rose as his primary point guard, it'll be the first time Rose has started a postseason game since the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 2015.

Hawks' Offense Grounded In Game 2

The Knicks had the NBA's best scoring defense during the regular season (104.7 points allowed per game), so it's no surprise to see New York lock down shooters again in the postseason. Especially at home. 

What was surprising was the Hawks' inability to adjust after having a chance to put the Knicks down big in the first half. Atlanta opened up a 15-point lead against a notably poor-shooting Knicks team only to watch Thibodeau out-coach the Hawks' Nate McMillan. 

That was despite Trae Young becoming the first player since Reggie Miller with multiple 30-point playoff games at Madison Square Garden. 

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TRAE YOUNG FROM DEEP ❄️ pic.twitter.com/NmzozqfRWO

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TRAE CAN’T MISS 🎯 pic.twitter.com/NcrGscLZRZ

The Hawks shot 36.9 percent from the field, made just 12-of-44 three-pointers and were out-rebounded 54-41. 

Losing one of those categories is bad enough. Losing all three is a recipe for a guaranteed loss. 

The Hawks shot nearly 10 percentage points better in Game 1 and won't be able to hang with New York if they can't average above 40 percent from the field in any game. 

Atlanta has proven time and again it has the tools to succeed in the East. But it can't withstand 2-of-13 outings behind the arc from Bogdanovic or six points in 30 minutes from Danilo Gallinari. 

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“I’ll see you in the A”<br><br>Trae Young is ready for Game 3 👀 pic.twitter.com/p85ade6pYI

Thibodeau showed he was willing to alter his lineup in order to spark his team. It may be time for McMillan to show he can do the same. 

What's Next?

Game 3 is slated for Friday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available. 

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