Trae Young's 21 Points Lead Hawks to 2-1 Series Lead over Julius Randle, Knicks

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIMay 29, 2021

Atlanta Hawks' Trae Young (11) shoots against New York Knicks' Derrick Rose (4) during the first half in Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, May 28, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

Trae Young's 21 points and 14 assists helped the Atlanta Hawks defeat the visiting New York Knicks 105-94 on Friday at State Farm Arena in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.

Young led the Hawks on a 22-3 run late in the second quarter to turn a 39-36 deficit into a 58-42 edge, posting five points and four assists during that stretch.

Atlanta, which led 58-44 at the half, never led by fewer than double digits for all of the final two quarters. The Hawks played sensational defense against the Knicks, who shot just 36.3 percent from the field for the night.

Knicks point guard Derrick Rose prevented this game from turning into a complete blowout, scoring 30 points on 13-of-21 shooting.

The rest of the team largely struggled, with Julius Randle notably scoring just 14 points on 2-of-15 shooting. The NBA's Most Improved Player has made just 13-of-54 shots (24.1 percent) in this series.

With the win, the Hawks took a 2-1 lead over the Knicks in the best-of-seven matchup.


Notable Performances

Hawks PG Trae Young: 21 points, 14 assists

Hawks C Clint Capela: 13 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks

Hawks PF John Collins: 14 points, 6 rebounds

Knicks PG Derrick Rose: 30 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists

Knicks F Julius Randle: 14 points, 11 rebounds

Knicks C Nerlens Noel: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals


Hawks' 2nd-Quarter Splurge Propels Atlanta to Game 3 Win

A seven-minute sequence dictated this game and highlighted everything that went right for the Hawks and wrong for the Knicks Friday.

On the offensive end, Young led a fluid, crisp offense that routinely ended in buckets.

On the defensive end, the Hawks simply shut down everyone on the court with a suffocating effort that quelled the Knick attack.

Young was sensational scoring and distributing, hitting a three-pointer from the midcourt logo that gave Atlanta a lead it would never relinquish:

Atlanta Hawks @ATLHawks

The range is limitless. pic.twitter.com/I4b3Yp9cKt

Young got the rest of his teammates going, though, like when he crossed up Randle and found Clint Capela for the slam:

Atlanta Hawks @ATLHawks

BOOOOOOOOOOM‼️ pic.twitter.com/xk8R2jfrdB

The Hawks were particularly efficient from the rim in the dominant showing, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic pointed out:

Chris Kirschner @ChrisKirschner

Incredible 2nd quarter for the Hawks. Destroying the Knicks on both ends of the floor. Shooters making their 3s. Up 58-44 at halftime. <br><br>Trae Young: 14/10 <br>Gallinari/Collins: 9 each <br><br>Hawks shooting 60 percent from 3, 75 percent at the rim.

Young helped the Hawks in that regard, and he made some history along the way too with his 10-assist first half:

NBA History @NBAHistory

Trae Young recorded 10 assists in the first half tonight. The last player with 10+ assists in a half of a playoff game in their first postseason was Rajon Rondo for the Celtics in 2008. pic.twitter.com/we85NiQGeL

He also registered a career-first:

ESPN Stats &amp; Info @ESPNStatsInfo

Trae Young had 10 assists and 0 turnovers in a half for the first time in his career, including regular season. pic.twitter.com/ucMhX3teKv

The fact that the Knicks have been unable to stay in front of Young all series, which was most evident in Game 1 when he slithered into the paint for the game-winning bucket with nine-tenths of a second left, played a big role in this loss.

The Hawks' defense also crushed the Knicks, though, holding them to 30.2 percent shooting by halftime, per Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Sarah K. Spencer @sarah_k_spence

Trae Young (double-double of 14 points, 10 assists already) and the Hawks picked the Knicks apart those last few minutes of the first half. Will need to sustain it.<br><br>Hawks 58, Knicks 44<br><br>Hawks shooting 53.5% FG to the Knicks' 30.2%. Knicks went 14-16 from the line, Hawks 3-5.

Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks called out one impressive sequence in particular from Capela and John Collins:

Brad Rowland @BTRowland

Great defensive sequence from Collins and Capela against Randle. <br><br>Just totally walled him off at the rim.

Knicks guard Alec Burks hit a bucket to put his team up 39-36, and Rose closed the first half with a two-pointer.

In between, the Knicks' offense went 1-of-9 with four turnovers during a stretch that lasted nearly seven minutes.

That fact, coupled with the Young-led offense's fantastic work, led to Atlanta coasting to a win.


Nothing Goes Right Offensively for Knicks Outside Rose

At times, it felt like Rose was playing 1-on-5.

He was the only Knick able to consistently generate any sort of offense on a night when the team largely looked out of sync.

When the Knicks did get open shots, they routinely clanked off the rim, continuing cold spells that have persisted on-and-off in this series.

Randle, in particular, has not played well.

A 6-of-23 Game 1 effort led to a 5-of-16 result in Game 2, and on Friday, he started his game 1-of-12.

The Hawks have clearly focused on stopping Randle, who has been subject to some swarming defensive efforts.

But Randle has generally been out of sync all series, and the effect on the team shows.

The Hawks fans let Randle hear it too:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Hawks crowd started an "overrated" chant for Julius Randle<br><br>(via @ChrisKirschner)pic.twitter.com/1ZX8vYoAbF

That's tough for a player who has averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists for a Knicks team enjoying its first playoff appearance in eight years. He very well could pick it back up in Game 4.

However, the rest of the team has largely been unable to pick Randle up.

On Friday, Rose had four more made field goals than the rest of the Knicks starters, who combined to shoot just 9-of-37. The bench shot just 7-of-22.

The Knicks could play A-plus defense and still lose with those numbers. The problem is that the defense struggled on Friday, leading to Atlanta's comfortable win.

Ultimately, John Jastremski of the Ringer summed up this series well:

John Jastremski @john_jastremski

The best player for the Hawks has showed up in every single game. The two best players for the Knicks have not. That had better change or the Knicks are cooked…

The Knicks obviously aren't going anywhere unless Randle finds a way to break this slump and the team follows suit. The good news is that they are only down 2-1 in the series, giving the team some time to regroup.


What's Next?

Atlanta will host Game 4 on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.