By Lenn Robbins
If you wondered what a playoff-starved Garden sounds like, feels like, you were blissfully and then painfully reminded Sunday night when the Knicks came nine-tenths of a second away from the memory of a lifetime.
The Knicks, playing in their first playoff game in eight years, went toe-to-toe with the Atlanta Hawks only to have Trea Young wake the echoes of Reggie Miller. Young, the mercurial 22-year-old guard, sunk a floater with .9 left giving the Hawks a 107-105 win in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Derrick Rose had tied the score at 105-105 with a floater of his own. The 15,047 fans, who never sat, were the most in a game since the pandemic hit. Had the Knicks won, this would have ranked with Mike Piazza’s home run in the wake of the 9-11 terrorism attacks. It wasn’t meant to be.
Young, who was taunted by The Garden crowd the entire night, turned to the New York fans and placed his index finger over his lips – the universal “Shush,” sign. He has a long way to go before joining Miller, the former Pacers star who once silenced the Garden by scoring eight points in the final nine seconds of a 1995 playoff game, but Young thrives off these interactions.
He finished with 32 points, 13 in the fourth quarter, 10 assists and seven rebounds as the Knicks lost a game they led going into the fourth quarter for the first time this season. Game 2 is Wednesday night and Young should know The Garden crowd will be larger and louder.
Rose was sensational, scoring 17 points, grabbing five rebounds and dishing five assists. Alec Burks led the Knicks with 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting. The Knicks couldn’t overcome one of All-Star Julius Randle’s worst performances of the season. He finished with 15 points on 9-of-23 shooting and 12 rebounds as the Hawks doubled him all night
“They loaded up on him pretty good,” said Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau. “We anticipated that.”
The play the Knicks would love to have back came with 55 seconds left and the Hawks trailing 103-100. The Knicks played great defense and RJ Barrett almost intercepted a pass that ended up in the hands of Bogdan Bogdanovic who drained a 3 from right in front of the New York bench.
Young made two free throws and Rose answered with his floater. The Knicks inserted Frank Ntilikina for defense. He failed to forced Young left and the Hawks guard burned the Knicks for the last time, ruining a Knicks night.