Julius Randle, RJ Barrett flop in Knicks blowout Game 3 loss to Hawks – New York Post
ATLANTA — Tom Thibodeau can change the Knicks’ starting point guard, but he can’t change what his team has been built around this season: Julius Randle and RJ Barrett as a dynamic 1-2 punch.
In their playoff debuts, however, the pair have been duds, and now the Knicks are facing a dose of reality as they trail the Hawks 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
For the third straight game, Randle and Barrett underperformed and the Hawks rolled with an emphatic 105-94 victory Friday in Game 3 in front of an announced crowd of 15,743 at a rowdy and red State Farm Arena
Randle and Barrett combined to shoot 4-for-24 from the field (3-for-12 from 3-point range). Randle, hounded by double-teams all night, finished with 14 points on 2-for-15 shooting with two assists, and Barrett had just seven points.
“I know I’m getting a lot of good shots,’’ Barrett said. “Those are 3’s I need to make. That’s about it. I see it. I’m open. I just have to make it.
“They made shots, we didn’t, and they won the game.”
Randle was not expansive either when asked why he has had such trouble against Atlanta’s swarming defenders after averaging 37 points in three games against the Hawks in the regular season.
“We just got to adjust, just got to adjust and we will,’’ said Randle, who was 8-for-8 from the line. “It’s on me. I just got to find a way to read the outlets quicker.’’
Hawks fans were given red “Believe’’ T-shirts, and they have plenty of reason now to believe this series has tilted heavily in their team’s direction after they burned their home nets in a 16-for-27 3-point shooting masterpiece.
Game 4 is slated for Sunday back at State Farm Arena.
Derrick Rose was given the start at point guard; he learned about it Friday morning. He started over the slumping Elfrid Payton and wasn’t the reason the Knicks lost. He racked up 30 points, but he couldn’t do it alone after scoring nine of the Knicks’ first 15 points.
Rose said the offense needs to find a way to get easier buckets as Randle and Barrett struggle with their outside shot.
“I can’t put a finger on it, bro,’’ Rose said of Randle’s struggles. “They’re doubling from weird spots. Sometimes from the top, sometimes baseline.
“Does anyone know how many fast-break points we had?’’ Rose added. “Zero. In playoffs games, we have to find a way to get an easy basket.’’
Power forward John Collins seemed to gloat over the Hawks’ defensive success against Randle, who has scored 15 points, 15 points and 14 points, in the three games.
“It’s a secret,’’ Collins said. “I can’t tell you completely. But what I can tell you is we turned up the intensity, the physicality.”
Asked if he sensed Randle’s frustration, Collins said: “I really don’t care. I hope so.”
Thibodeau needs to make further adjustments to unlock Randle’s game, but it’s tough to imagine going back to Payton, whose mother ruffled some feathers on social media Wednesday night.
She subtweeted “How that Worked out for you! #ProudMama,” posting a photo of the Knicks’ starting five.
The Knicks were blown away on a 22-3 run in the second quarter as Atlanta’s defense swarmed and the Hawks’ 3-point shooters awoke, giving them a 58-44 halftime bulge. Atlanta‘s lead never was threatened and frustration boiled over when Reggie Bullock shoved Trae Young (30 points, 14 assists) in the final minutes.
“When we’re not making shots, we still have to play with that sense of urgency,’’ Rose said. “We have to find a way to grind it out when we’re not making shots. Not play lackadaisical.’’
In the first half, former Knick Danilo Gallinari, after two troubling games, lit it up from 3-point range, hitting all three of his treys en route to 12 points.
The Atlanta crowd didn’t create quite a big a ruckus as the Garden din, but they certainly came close to rivaling the noise. The night began with chants of “New York Sucks’’ and “A-T-L.” The small coterie of Knicks fans were drowned out by boos when they chanted “MVP” with Randle at the line.
“We just had one bad stretch of the second quarter,’’ Randle said. “I don’t think we were worried about the crowd. We’re just worried about what went on the court. How do we adjust to get wins and be better for next game.’’
Randle’s lone make in the first half was a biggie — a last-second 3-pointer that capped a six-point splurge in the final 1.1 seconds of the first quarter and should have given the Knicks major momentum, but did not.
“I didn’t ever think we really got our defense going in this game,’’ Thibodeau said. “We have to understand the intensity that we have to bring to each game.’’