Hawks seek to regain spark against Knicks

NBA

The Atlanta Hawks will try to regroup after one of their sloppiest games of the season on Monday when they host the road-tested New York Knicks.

The Hawks, playing the second night of a back-to-back, suffered from fatigue and made a slew of mistakes in Saturday’s 96-91 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. New York will be playing the final game of their four-game road trip. The Knicks won two of the first three games on the trip, including Saturday’s 106-102 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

The Hawks won two of the three meetings against the Knicks last season.

On Saturday, the Hawks finished with 20 turnovers in the loss to Cleveland after having zero in the first quarter. Atlanta frittered away a 15-point second-half lead and suffered from a lack of energy. Even Trae Young was limited to a season-low 16 points — far below his average of 28.2 — and had six turnovers.

“In the same game, you get a five-second backdown and a half-court violation,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce said. “We didn’t really have any mojo. Those two plays where we’re just playing slow and doing things that are uncharacteristic, and I don’t know if that was fatigue. We were just out of sorts.”

The rebuilding Knicks have leaned on veteran Austin Rivers, who brings the sort of experience that can help a young team in close games. Rivers scored 15 points in 17 minutes in the win over the Pacers on Saturday. He averages 11 points.

“I think the experience is huge and it gives us another guy who can put the ball on the floor,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said “He can make 3s, he can play defense and I think that’s the way the league is going right now. I thought he made big shots (against the Pacers), big plays and he’s still working his way through the conditioning piece of it.”

New York is led by Julius Randle, who averages 21.2 points and 10.5 rebounds. R.J. Barrett averages 17 points and scored 25 in his last game. Alec Burks averages 20.7 points but has missed the past three games with a sprained left ankle. Burks remains questionable against the Hawks.

“We have a lot of work to do, we have a lot to improve on,” Rivers said. “I know we have great fans and I wanted to let them know we’re doing everything we can and we’re building and we’re going to get there.”

Atlanta has seen continued offensive growth from De’Andre Hunter, who averages 14.7 points, and John Collins, who averages 17 points and 6.8 rebounds.

The Hawks have benefited from the inside presence of Clint Capela, who averages 10.5 points and 12 rebounds and has had a double-double the past two games. He had a double-double before halftime against Cleveland. Capela missed the first two games of the season with left Achilles soreness.

Atlanta hopes to get Rajon Rondo back; he’s missed the past two games with left knee soreness. The Hawks learned Saturday that Danilo Gallinari (right ankle sprain) will be out at least two weeks. Kevin Huerter limped off the court late in Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury and did not return.

–Field Level Media

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