ATLANTA (AP) — Tim Hardaway Jr. knows the New York Knicks are depending on him to take charge when necessary.
Sometimes that’s easier said than done.
“I can just remember from the Indiana game (last week) how many opportunities I had to take over and put my name on the game, and I didn’t take advantage of that,” he said. “I just wanted to make sure that we did a good job of executing down the stretch and try to put the game in my hands and on my shoulders.”
Hardaway scored 27 of his 34 points in the second half, reserve Enes Kanter added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and the Knicks beat the Atlanta Hawks 112-107 on Wednesday night.
In a matchup of rebuilding clubs, Allonzo Trier finished with 16 points and Noah Vonleh had 11 points and 13 rebounds to help New York snap a two-game skid.
Omari Spellman scored 18 points for the Hawks, who have lost two straight and six of seven. Alex Poythress’ basket cut the lead to four with 22.8 seconds remaining, but the Hawks blew their next two possessions when Poythress dropped an inbound pass and Taurean Prince missed two free throws.
Trae Young finished with 15 points and eight assists for Atlanta, but the NBA’s fifth-overall draft pick missed 13 of 19 shots and went just 1 for 7 on 3-point attempts.
“We get down double digits in that third quarter, really from an inability to score,” Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “There are a lot of reasons. Out of sync. Trying to find the rhythm of the group. Someone to kind of give us life.”
Hardaway, who had career highs of 16 free throws made and 20 attempted, forced his will in the third as one of the few veteran players on the floor. He was 5 for 8 from the field and had 15 points, two steals and one blocked shot.
“I was trying to get my rhythm back in the first half,” he said. “Then in the second half we started getting defensive stops, steals, blocks, getting back on defense. That kind of propelled me on the offensive end and kept me going.”
The Knicks never trailed after Emmanuel Mudiay’s 3 made it 65-63 midway through the third. They took their biggest lead at 16 on Kanter’s two free throws in the final minute of the period.
Kanter got tangled up with Hawks reserve center Miles Plumlee on a rebound attempt early in the fourth. He flipped over and landed on his head after both players fell to the floor. Kanter stayed in the game and shook off any bad vibes.
“We are having fun, especially all of the young guys,” Kanter said. “The chemistry is getting there, so we are just going to go there, smile, have fun and try to get a win.”
Knicks: Kevin Knox, the No. 9 overall draft pick, was 0 for 6 from the field and did not score in nine minutes. It was his second game back after missing seven with a sprained left ankle. He had two points in five minutes of Monday’s double-overtime loss to Chicago. … Ntilikina, the eighth overall pick, is the only Knick to start the first 12 games.
Hawks: Coach Lloyd Pierce said rookie F Kevin Huerter, the 19th overall pick, was not with the team because of a family matter. … Young, Huerter and Spellman started at Charlotte, marking the first time since April 1, 2005 that the Hawks started three rookies. Josh Smith, Josh Childress and Royal Ivey were in the lineup that day against Boston.
ON THE MEND
An MRI last week showed the mild inflammation in his left ankle looks better, but Hawks F John Collins likely won’t return to practice until next week. He has missed the first 11 games.
Knicks: Visit Toronto on Saturday.
Hawks: Host Detroit on Friday.