Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks was essentially meaningless in the grand scheme of things. The New York Knicks were all but eliminated from playoff contention several weeks ago. My brain knows this. I can do the math. However, the game was on TNT, and the media delighted in hyping this one as “Trae Young with another chance to eliminate the Knicks at MSG.” It was a cynical ploy to get casual fans to watch a contest between the 10th and 12th-place teams in the Eastern Conference.
And by the end, I bought it hook, line, and sinker. When the Knicks took an 99-89 lead in the fourth quarter on a three from Miles McBride (DEUCE!!!). I was fully invested. Who cares if Tom Thibodeau plays RJ Barrett 42 minutes on the first night of a back-to-back? Just win this fucking game!!!
Alas, you can probably figure out what happened next. The Hawks torched the Knicks from there on out. Trae Young (45 points) destroyed New York, just as the prophesy foretold. Perhaps even worse, random scrub Knick assassin Bogdan Bogdanovic lit up New York for 32 points. RJ Barrett got his 30 points, but he was rough from the field (9-25 shooting) and the free-throw line (11-17). Tom Thibodeau was in his element even with Julius Randle sidelined...perhaps even more so. The coach played Taj Gibson out of position at power forward for the last FIFTEEN minutes of the game, even as the Hawks were exploiting him on defense. Obi Toppin started the game and played well through three quarters (10 points on 5-7 shooting, seven rebounds, three assists), but y’all know the deal with Thibs and Obi by now.
Recap to come. Blergh.