Improved Knicks return home to take on Hawks

NBA Basketball
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If New York Knicks management was looking for a measurable change when it fired coach David Fizdale, it’s getting it. In the five games since Mike Miller took over on an interim basis, the club is at least competitive.

In Fizdale’s final two games in charge, the Knicks lost by a combined 81 points. In the five games since Miller replaced him, New York is 2-3 and coming off a 2-2 road trip. On Tuesday, the Knicks play their sixth game under Miller — and second at home with their new coach — when they host the Atlanta Hawks.

Miller’s first game was a 104-103 home loss to Indiana on Dec. 7 when Julius Randle missed a free throw in the final seconds.

After coming close against Indiana, the Knicks began their trip with a 28-point loss in Portland on Tuesday that extended their losing streak to 10 games. They snapped the streak by blowing a 21-point lead before getting a 124-122 overtime win at Golden State on Wednesday and then rallied from 16 points down to beat Sacramento on Friday night.

With a chance at getting their third straight win, the Knicks came back from a 16-point deficit but could not score in the final minutes and took a 111-105 loss in Denver on Sunday. The Knicks held a 100-98 lead with 5:57 remaining but missed 11 straight shots and went scoreless for more than 5 1/2 minutes.

“We put ourselves in a good position,” Miller told reporters. “If we can put ourselves in the position where, with four minutes to play, we have a chance to win, then we’re doing what we need to do.”

Marcus Morris scored 22 points for the Knicks, with 16 coming in the third quarter after the slow start. Randle added 20 and has matched a season high by scoring at least 20 points in three straight games.

Atlanta’s 6-21 record is tied with New Orleans and New York for the second-worst mark in the league. The Hawks are on a four-game losing streak and are 2-15 in their last 17 games since Nov. 12.

Only five of those defeats are by single digits, and the Hawks twice allowed 150 points in that stretch.

Atlanta enters off one of its better defensive showings when it held the Los Angeles Lakers to 42.9 percent shooting from the field in a 101-96 home loss on Sunday.

“We did our best to compete,” Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce told reporters. “I’m proud of our guys.”

Trae Young scored 30 points and enters averaging a team-best 27.8 points after getting his 13th 30-point game. He is hoping to get more help as Atlanta’s next leading-scorer was Jabari Parker, who scored 12 points Sunday and is averaging 16 points.

Atlanta may be without the other part of its starting backcourt if Kevin Huerter sits out. Huerter injured his left shoulder in the fourth quarter Sunday and has yet to reach double figures in six games since returning from a shoulder injury Dec. 4.

The Knicks won three of four meetings with the Hawks last season.

–Field Level Media

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