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New York, New York – The resilient Atlanta Hawks (5-3) comeback from a large deficit to embarrass the (3-4) New York Knicks 112-99.
Atlanta, who was down by as many as 23 points in the middle of the second quarter, went on a rampage and never looked back. A type of win like this not only gives them confidence but it builds character.
This comes after an embarrassing loss to the Raptors and head coach Nate McMillan chastising the Hawks over the podium. To fight back and claw their way to a win shows mental toughness from this team.
Here are three factors that stood out in this big win.
The luxury of having another All-Star
Mr. Atlanta Hawk, Trae Young was having a tough shooting night, starting off 2-of-12 from the field. Dejounte Murray took it upon himself and scored 28 of his 36 points from the second quarter till the end.
What really made this significant was seeing Young going into the locker room after getting hit in the eye. During Young’s tenure, there was never a player on the team that could take over the game when he was out of the game or not available.
To see Murray not only control the game offensively but disrupt the Knicks with his defense sent a message to the NBA. Murray collected six steals and a block. Add nine assist with his performance and it’s clear to see that the Hawks are in good hands, or should I say in four good hands.
The mindset of the Hawks have changed
Although you had Murray shine, this ended up as a collective win for the team. The team responded after a lackluster effort in Toronto and being challenged by McMillan.
The hustle, the grind and chasing 50/50 balls were all displayed in the win. Most of all, we finally saw the defense that had been expected from a McMillan-led team. John Collins, Onyeka Okongwu, Aaron Holliday, Clint Capela and the rest of the gang moved their feet, blocked shots, took charges and all.
Offensively, De’Andre Hunter took it upon himself to help shoulder some of the scoring load after Young went into the locker room. Hunter was 9-for-21 from the field. That might not look good in the stat sheet but the aggressiveness is what you want to see out of him.
Also, to see Aaron Holiday make great decisions from the point guard position and Collins affect the game in different ways other than just scoring leaves an impression that the Hawks aren’t the same team we’ve been accustomed to. Multiple guys stepped in and did what was needed, whether it was rebounding, defense, spacing the floor or just hitting the open shot.
Trae is a tough (feel in the blank)
It’s obvious that Ice Trae is the heart and soul of the team but to see him get knocked out of the game and then come back was encouraging. Young is unquestionably the smallest player on the team but for him to show that he might be the toughest has to make his teammates respect him more.
Young got hit in his left eye trying to defend Julius Randle and had to leave the game in the third the quarter. He returned to the game late in the fourth quarter with a boxer’s mentality and was ready to play.
Speaking of boxer, he looked like Rocky Balboa with a swollen eye that was halfway closed shut. And as soon as he came in the game, he threw a no-look alley-hoop to Caplea.
If you’re a teammate of Young and you see the smallest but best player on your team comeback to play while you have a double-digit lead, you have to have that same mentality and toughness from here on out.