The New York Knicks have had an incredibly frustrating first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks. Their best player, Julius Randle, has been held to only 16.7 points on dismal shooting numbers. Hawks star Trae Young seems to have solved their vaunted defense. And after two games in Atlanta, the Hawks are only one win away from advancing to the second round as they lead this series 3-1.
But the Knicks let their tempers get the best of them at the end of Game 3. With 3:30 remaining in the game, Reggie Bullock committed a technical foul after needing to get held back from confronting a Hawks player before a timeout. Only 25 seconds of game time later, Randle committed a flagrant foul on Danilo Gallinari. By that point, the outcome of the game had long been decided, but the Knicks, desperately searching for some sort of spark, kept fighting and caused some controversy in the process.
Yet the Hawks are unphased heading into Game 5. Right now, they’re locked in and focused on the game. “I’m just trying to keep it to basketball,” Young told reporters after the game. “I don’t care if they’re in their feelings or who’s mad or who’s not. It’s basketball at the end of the day and we’re just trying to win. All of the extra stuff, it is what it is. We’re locked in. We’re focused on us and trying to win a game.”
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Young has already turned into a villain among Knicks fans for his performance in this series. After hitting the game-winning shot in Game 1, Young put a finger to his mouth and shushed the raucous Madison Square Garden crowd. But in this case, he’s trying to avoid further controversy. He’s one game away from his first series victory, and hopefully, no on-court feuds between him and the Knicks are going to get in the way of that.