If the trend continues, there will be plenty of points scored when the New York Knicks meet the Atlanta Hawks for the third and final time of the season on Wednesday in Atlanta.
The first two meetings were offensive showcases. The Knicks won 143-120 on Dec. 17 in New York; their point total is the highest they have in a game this season. In the rematch, Atlanta prevailed 140-135 in double overtime on Feb. 9; that is the second-most points scored by Atlanta, exceeded only by the 152 they put on the board against Washington on Jan. 26.
Atlanta (20-46) has been playing well at home. The Hawks have won nine of their past 12 at State Farm Arena, including a 143-138 double-overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday.
New York (20-45) has won only three of its past 12. The Knicks lost to the Washington Wizards 122-115 on Tuesday, blowing a 70-54 halftime lead.
“We’ve still got a job to do. Still got to get better every day,” Knicks guard Elfrid Payton said. “Ain’t nobody over here mailing it in, trying to tank or nothing like that. Everybody is trying to get better. Everybody is trying to work on their craft, because it’s not just about today, tomorrow.”
The Hawks hit a season-high 21 3-pointers in their last game, making 48.8 percent of their treys against the Hornets.
Point guard Trae Young recorded his 27th double-double against the Hornets with 31 points and 16 assists, which took him to the 1,200 career assist mark. He also hit the 350th 3-pointer of his career, becoming the 10th player in Hawks history to reach the plateau and becoming the fastest player in NBA history to reach that mark. Young has scored 42 and 48 in two meetings with the Knicks.
Forward John Collins had his 21st double-double against Charlotte and started the game 10-for-10 from the field. Collins has at least 20 points on 23 occasions in 40 games played, the fourth-highest total among players drafted in 2017.
Atlanta’s problem against Charlotte came at the line. The Hawks made only 16 of 27 (59.3 percent) of its free throws, and Young missed one with 1.1 seconds left that would have ended the game in regulation.
“We usually don’t shoot that bad from the free-throw line,” Young said. “That was just new. So, for us to go through that adversity and still come out on top was good.”
The New York reserves had a nice effort in the loss to Washington. They scored 66 points, with Bobby Portis and Frank Ntilikina both posting 20. It was a season high for Ntilikina.
The Knicks may be close to getting Dennis Smith Jr. back in the lineup. He practiced on Saturday for the first time since a concussion suffered Feb. 27 against Philadelphia caused him to miss six games. Smith earlier missed seven games because of a death in the family and another 13 games with an oblique strain.
“Whenever we can have a full roster and be at full strength, it obviously helps us in every way,” interim coach Mike Miller said.
–Field Level Media