October 18, 2018 / 2:40 AM / 4 months ago

Hardaway Jr. drops 31 as Knicks rout Hawks

EditorsNote: fixes “Fizdale” in sixth graf; changes to “47-second” in last graf

Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 16 of his game-high 31 points during New York’s record-setting 49-point second quarter Wednesday night, when the host Knicks cruised to a 126-107 win over the Atlanta Hawks in the season opener for both teams.

The 49-point second quarter was the most prolific second quarter in the 72-year history of the Knicks and their second-highest scoring quarter ever.

The Knicks also flirted with another bit of history before the Hawks scored the final eight points of the game to prevent New York — which earned 25-point victories in the 1969-70 and 2015-16 openers — from enjoying its biggest season-opening win ever.

Hardaway led a whopping seven players in double figures for the Knicks. Enes Kanter (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Noah Vonleh (12 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles while Trey Burke, Mario Hezonja and Allonzo Trier had 15 points each. Rookie first-round pick Kevin Knox added 10 points on 4-for-16 shooting in his NBA debut.

Taurean Prince led the Hawks with 21 points while Kent Bazemore and rookie Trae Young added 14 points apiece as 41-year-old Vince Carter, the oldest player in the NBA, chipped in 12 points. Jeremy Lin, the one-time Knicks phenom, scored eight points in his return to Madison Square Garden.

The game also served as the debuts of Knicks head coach David Fitzdale and Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, each of whom were hired in the offseason to preside over rebuilding teams.

The Knicks actually got off to an ice-cold start by missing their first nine field-goal attempts over a five-minute span in which Hardaway’s two free throws accounted for their only points. But the Hawks could only open up a 10-2 lead during New York’s dry spell.

Burke drained a 3-pointer to give the Knicks their first lead, 12-10, with 6:11 left in the period. The Hawks led at the end of one, 24-23, but Vonleh’s dunk 21 seconds into the second gave New York the lead for good.

Hardaway scored seven straight points for the Knicks in a 43-second span shortly before the midway point of the second quarter to give them a double-digit lead for good.

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