During their four-game winning streak, the Atlanta Hawks are beginning to show the expected results from the offseason when they created a powerful backcourt by acquiring Dejounte Murray and pairing him with Trae Young.
The guards appear to be hitting their stride and will test their newfound compatibility Friday when the Hawks host the New York Knicks.
The Knicks, who have lost two straight, are tied for sixth in the Eastern Conference and the Hawks are 1 1/2 games behind them in eighth place.
This will be the third meeting between the teams after they split the first two in New York, with the Knicks winning the most recent contest, 113-89 on Dec. 7 at Madison Square Garden. The final meeting will be Feb. 15 in Atlanta.
The Hawks won their season-long fourth straight game Wednesday, beating the Dallas Mavericks 130-122 on the road. Murray scored 30 points and Young had 18 points and 12 assists.
Murray is averaging 28.3 points over the past three games and 20.6 points for the season. He has led the team in scoring 10 times. Young, who averages 27.1 and has led the team in scoring 27 times, said he’s less interested in padding his statistics and more interested in winning.
“This is why DJ is here,” Young said. “In some games it’s going to be him, it’s going to be his night to score and it’s going to be his night to carry us. It’s not always going to be me scoring the most points, so that’s why he’s here and I’m glad he’s here.”
Young took a season-low 11 shots against Dallas while his 12 assists were his most since Jan. 2.
“Whenever my shots aren’t going in or if somebody else’s shot is going, it’s my job to get them involved and keep getting them the ball and keep feeding them,” Young said. “I don’t have to score the most points every night.”
New York is coming off a 116-105 loss to Washington on Wednesday, when coach Tom Thibodeau bemoaned the lack of offense.
“We’re not making shots right now. That’s probably the biggest thing,” Thibodeau said. “I think we need more easy baskets. We’re not playing with the speed we need to play with. Right now we’ve got to work our way through this. … It’s just not going our way and we’ve got to make it go our way tomorrow.”
The Knicks are led by Julius Randle, who averages 24.2 points and 10.7 rebounds. Randle needs 23 points to catch Mark Jackson (5,544) for No. 24 on the Knicks’ all-time scoring list.
New York will be without Mitchell Robinson (7.2 points, 8.9 rebounds), who played only nine minutes against the Wizards before leaving with a fractured thumb. Robinson underwent surgery Thursday and will miss at least three weeks.
His absence would mean a larger role for Isaiah Hartenstein (5.1 points, 6.1 rebounds) and Jericho Sims (3.5 points, 4.2 rebounds).
–Field Level Media