/Knicks season on the brink after disastrous Game 4 loss to Hawks – New York Post

Knicks season on the brink after disastrous Game 4 loss to Hawks – New York Post


ATLANTA — The Knicks’ fairytale season is nearly over.

Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks were a terrific-regular season team, but their flaws have been revealed during this depressing first-round series against the Hawks.

Julius Randle was a little better and RJ Barrett was a lot better, but neither was nearly enough to stifle Atlanta’s weaponry. The Hawks have put the Knicks on the brink with Sunday’s 113-96 victory before 16,458 at raucous State Farm Arena.

The Knicks are in a 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series and have never come back from that deficit in 13 tries in their history. Just 13 teams in 260 instances have ever recovered from a 3-1 deficit.

“We’ve got to fix it,’’ Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to fix it fast.”

Game 5 is back at what will be a frenzied Garden on Wednesday. In the fourth quarter, the Atlanta fans did themselves proud, chanting “Hawks in Five” as they led by as many as 26 points.

Randle begs to differ with the odds.

“I like our chances,” Randle said. “To answer your question, I love our chances. It’s not over. It’s not nearly over.”

Shooting 24 percent in the series entering the afternoon, Randle scored his playoff-high 23 points and added seven assists and 10 rebounds, but shot just 7-for-19 and committed five turnovers. He was on the receiving end of “overrated” chants all game.

Knicks lose Hawks Game 4 NBA playoffs
Julius Randle (l.) and Tom Thibodeau (r.) during the Knicks’ Game 4 loss to the Hawks on May 30, 2021.
Corey Sipkin (2)

Randle thought it was a first step toward getting out of his struggles in his first appearance in the playoffs.

“The big thing for me was to be more decisive,’’ Randle said. “Misses and makes really don’t matter. Just continue to trust the work I put in. I was more decisive and have something to build on. Obviously you want to come out with the win. You’re never satisfied with an individual performance. You want to win games. I’d rather play bad and win. Regardless, I have to be a lot better. The team has to be a lot better.’’

There was decided late frustration from the Knicks. With 3:05 left, Randle committed a dirty foul on Danilo Gallinari, grabbing him, then shoving him after the whistle, picking up a flagrant foul.

It was in retaliation to Gallinari earlier hitting Bullock in the neck after Bullock had moved toward the Hawks’ bench.

“This is the playoffs,” Thibodeau said. “So there’s intensity to it. I don’t know if frustration is the right word. Maybe disappointment, but there’s resiliency to this team. We have to fight back and we will.”

Barrett added 21 points in a bounce-back outing and new starting point guard Derrick Rose was respectable with 18 points, though 10 points came in the first eight minutes and he petered out. Rose was a minus-22.

But the Knicks had nothing else after Randle-Barrett-Rose. They couldn’t get anything from starting shooting guard Reggie Bullock (zero points on 0-for-4, three missed 3-pointers) or enough consistency from backup guard Alec Burks (4-for-12).

The Hawks swarm Julius Randle at the rim today.
The Hawks swarm Julius Randle at the rim today.
Getty Images

Atlanta ripped off a 15-5 run to start the second half to take a 68-54 lead and outscored the Knicks 25-22 in the third period.

“Last game was the second quarter, this game was the third quarter,’’ Barrett said.

Trae Young (27 points, nine assists) started the surge with a 3-pointer and a floater. John Collins finished with a tough, contested foul-line jumper over Randle, then an open 3-pointer. Atlanta led 88-71 after three quarters on a Bogdan Bogdanovic last-second 3-pointer.

With their 3-point weapons flourishing, six Hawks finished in double figures as Gallinari, the ex-Knick, pumped in 21 points. The Hawks hit 15 3-pointers, to the Knicks’ 9.

“It was a hard-fought first and second quarter,’’ Thibodeau said. “The third quarter we got back on our heels. The rebounding was a problem from the start.’’

While Randle will take some blame, this loss wasn’t squarely on him as he made better reads and was more assertive. He needs a lot more talent around him.

“Actually, I liked a lot of the plays that Julius made today,’’ Thibodeau said. “As long as he is making quick decisions, good things are going to happen.’’

Not enough good things happened Sunday or Friday. In the two games in Atlanta, the Knicks were outscored by 38 points. They’ve seen enough of this city for now, but will try to force a return trip for Game 6.

“Ready to go back to the Garden, ready to get back to NYC and regroup,’’ Knicks center Taj Gibson said. “Just ready for the next game.’’

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