Different types of struggles from the field and similar issues closing out in the fourth quarter Wednesday night have the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks in the same position of seeking their first win Friday night, when the Hawks host the Knicks in a meeting of the longtime Eastern Conference rivals.
Both teams were off Thursday after suffering narrow defeats Wednesday night, when the visiting Hawks lost to the Charlotte Hornets 116-110 and the host Knicks fell to the Boston Celtics 108-104.
The Hawks led by as many as 11 points in the first half and trailed by as many as seven in the third quarter before squandering a narrow lead in the final six minutes of the fourth. The Hornets scored on 10 of their last 12 possessions, a span in which Atlanta was 4-of-11 from the field, including 1-of-7 from 3-point land.
“I’ve got to play better – I mean, I don’t want to put anything on my teammates,” said guard Trae Young, who was 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. “It’s tough. I don’t want to play like that. I’m not going to play like that.”
The Hawks were 5-of-29 (17.2 percent) from 3-point range, their worst performance from beyond the arc since shooting 16.7 percent (6-of-36) in a 113-89 loss to the Knicks last Dec. 7.
Young led Atlanta with 23 points while forward Jalen Johnson scored a career-high 21 on 9-of-13 shooting.
Hawks head coach Quin Snyder, who began his first full season at the helm Wednesday, believed Atlanta’s struggles from long distance impacted its defensive play.
The Hornets shot 50 percent for the game (43-of-86), including 59.1 percent (13-of-22) in the fourth quarter.
“Layups and 3s, I think we have a team that can make both of those,” Snyder said. “It’s very common when you’re not having a good shooting night to stop defending.”
The Knicks hit 18-of-41 3-pointers (43.9 percent) Wednesday, when they overcame a 12-point third-quarter deficit to take a pair of six-point leads late in the fourth.
But the Knicks’ cold shooting from inside the arc spread out at the most inopportune time. New York was 1-of-9 from the field – including 0-for-6 from the 3-point land – and 1-of-3 from the free throw line in the final three minutes, a span in which the Celtics mounted a 13-3 run.
“We missed a couple bunnies, missed some free throws, and then they made (some) down the stretch,” Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau said.
The Knicks finished the game just 18-of-56 (32.1 percent) from inside the arc and 14-of-26 (53.8 percent) from the free-throw line. Julius Randle and Jalen Brunson, New York’s top two scorers last season, were a combined 11-of-43 from the field and 1-of-6 from the line.
“We just missed shots – the basket had a lid on it,” Randle said. “But those are shots we’ll take and we’ll make.”
Including Friday’s matchup in Atlanta, New York plays four of its next five games on the road over eight days.