Tim Hardaway Jr. played 130 games with Hawks from 2015-17 before signing a free-agent contract with New York, and the move has paid big dividends for a Knicks team that visits Atlanta on Friday night. Hardaway scored a career-best 38 points Wednesday, including 12 during a dizzying 28-0 burst in the third quarter, to lift the Knicks from a double-digit halftime deficit to a 108-100 victory over Toronto - New York’s sixth victory when trailing by 10 points or more.
“If I see a lane, I’m just penetrating as hard as I can and trying to make the right play at the basket,” Hardaway told reporters after raising his season average to 18.4 points per game. Atlanta dropped its 15th game in 18 tries Wednesday, falling 116-103 to a Los Angeles Clippers team that entered the game on a nine-game losing streak. The Hawks gave up 15 3-pointers and allowed Los Angeles to shoot 57.9 percent from the field as a seven-point lead early in the third quarter evaporated. “A lot of their guys played well, but we have to do more to be disruptive, more to make it difficult for them,” Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer told the media.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), FSN Southeast (Atlanta)
ABOUT THE KNICKS (10-7): Center Kristaps Porzingis finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday, and comes into Friday fourth in the NBA in scoring at 27.3 points per contest. The Knicks outscored Toronto 41-10 in the decisive third quarter, then held together as Toronto mounted a late charge before Porzingis and Hardaway hit key baskets down the stretch. New York has won seven of its past 10 games, moving into a fifth-place tie in the Eastern Conference.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (3-15): Atlanta gave standout rookie John Collins his first career start Wednesday, and he responded with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 38 minutes. Marco Belinelli scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting against the Clippers, his fourth double-figure scoring output in the past five games to raise his season average to 12.1. The Hawks are tied for third in the league in steals and ninth in assists.
1. The Hawks are shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point range (third in the NBA), making 10 or more 3-pointers in 10 of 18 games.
2. New York’s key number is 100: The Knicks are 10-2 when scoring at least 100 points, and 4-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 100.
3. Atlanta plays four of its next five games at home, where the Hawks are 1-6 on the season.
PREDICTION: Knicks 105, Hawks 97