NBA

Trae Young stays hot for Hawks, but what is going on with Julius Randle?

By Sports Desk May 29, 2021

Trae Young helped the Atlanta Hawks regain the advantage in their first-round series against the New York Knicks, who saw Julius Randle endure another playoff outing to forget in Game 3.

Point guard Young led his team with 21 points as all five of Atlanta's starters reached double figures in a 105-94 triumph on Friday.

His eight-for-19 shooting performance was supplemented by 14 assists, making the 22-year-old just the third player since the merger with 80 or more points and at least 30 assists in his first three career playoff games, a feat also achieved by Kevin Johnson and Chris Paul.  

"I feel like I've prepared my whole life for these days, these moments," Young said after helping his team go 2-1 up in the best-of-seven series in the Eastern Conference.

However, it was the defensive effort that was the bedrock for Atlanta's victory, including keeping the struggling Knicks to just 13 points in the second quarter.

The visitors were unable to claw back the deficit after trailing 58-44 at half-time, not aided by Randle remaining cold on offense.

The 26-year-old made just two of his 15 attempts in total, with both successes coming from beyond the arc. He became the first Knick to go 0-for-eight or worse on two-point shots in a playoff game since Patrick Ewing did so 27 years ago.

Randle is now shooting 20.6 per cent on two-pointers across the series, making just seven of his 34 tries. It is the lowest success rate in a three-game span by any player with that many attempts in the past 30 postseasons.

His meagre offensive output is in stark contrast to his efforts in the regular season: Randle averaged a career-high 24.1 points per game to help the franchise end an eight-year playoff drought, while he became an All-Star for the first time.

For Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, the key is reacting to the situation on each possession, particularly as Atlanta's ploy of sending two and three players at Randle is leaving others open elsewhere.

"They loaded up on him pretty good. When a team does that, when they put two or three guys on you, you've got to make the play," Thibodeau said in his post-game media conference.

"You've either got to get easy buckets in transition, or off drive-and-kick, you've got to keep moving around.

"He's seen a lot of that this year, but when you have a second and a third guy, that can make it tough. But that should lead to rebounding and open threes on the back side, so we've got to trust the pass."

He added: "The big thing is to get rid of the ball and make plays early. When you do that, you can usually get high-percentage shots. When you get the second defender on the ball, their responsibility is to get rid of it and make plays for their team-mates."

Game 4 of the series takes place in Atlanta on Sunday.

Related items

  • Golden State Warriors sign free agent Donte DiVincenzo to two-year deal Golden State Warriors sign free agent Donte DiVincenzo to two-year deal

    The Golden State Warriors have signed free agent Donte DiVincenzo to a two-year, $9.3million deal – with the second year being a player option.

    DiVincenzo, 25, was a first-round draft pick by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2018 after winning his second NCAA Championship on the same Villanova team as Mikal Bridges and Jalen Brunson, earning the Final Four's Most Valuable Player in the 2018 title.

    He found a role immediately with the Bucks, and went on to start in all 66 of his regular season appearances in their championship season in 2021, before getting injured in the first round of the playoffs.

    In that season, he averaged 10.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 38 per cent from long range, proving himself as a strong complementary piece that can provide above average wing play on both ends of the floor.

    During the Bucks' championship run, Pat Connaughton usurped DiVincenzo's role, with Milwaukee opting to trade him just two months after he returned from his six-month injury layoff.

    While he was never able to truly fit in with the Sacramento Kings after arriving mid-season, he still averaged 18 points, 8.1 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.7 steals per 100 possessions in his 25 games off the bench – all career-high marks.

    For the Warriors, DiVincenzo figures to fill important minutes after the departures of both Gary Payton II to the Portland Trail Blazers and Otto Porter Jr to the Toronto Raptors.

  • Jazz trading Gobert to Timberwolves Jazz trading Gobert to Timberwolves

    The Utah Jazz are trading center and three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday.  

    Utah will receive multiple first-round picks in return for the three-time All-Star, along with Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt and Leandro Bolmaro.  

    ESPN reported that the Timberwolves are sending its 2023, 2025 and 2027 picks unprotected and a top-five protected 2029 pick to Utah.  

    The news comes a day after the Timberwolves and star Karl-Anthony Towns agreed to a four-year, $224million contract extension, giving Minnesota one of the most decorated frontcourts in the NBA.  

    A busy offseason continues for Timberwolves president Tim Connelly, who took over basketball operations this offseason after building the Denver Nuggets into a contender.  

    Gobert led the league last season by grabbing 14.7 rebounds per game. Fellow All-Star Towns ranked 14th at 9.8 rebounds per game.  

    Gobert's departure marks the end of an era for Utah, which peaked in 2020-21 when they secured the West's No. 1 seed but were ousted by the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round of the playoffs.  

    The Jazz went 49-33 last season, losing in the first round to the Dallas Mavericks. The team will now look to rebuild around three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell.  

    Gobert has spent all nine of his NBA seasons in Utah, who drafted him 27th overall in 2013. He has averaged 12.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 611 career games.  

    Minnesota, who ranked 24th in the league last season by allowing 113.3 points per game, immediately projects to be stingier with Gobert, who was named the NBA's top defender three times in four seasons from 2017-2021.  

    Last season, the Timberwolves secured the No. 7 seed in the play-in tournament but fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round in six games.  

  • Champion Warriors bring back Looney on three-year deal Champion Warriors bring back Looney on three-year deal

    The Golden State Warriors have retained a key member of their NBA championship team by agreeing to a three-year, $25.5million contract with forward Kevon Looney, ESPN reported on Friday.

    A first-round pick of the Warriors in 2015, Looney started a career-high 80 regular-season games in 2021-22 and emerged as a valuable complementary contributor to Golden State's fourth NBA title in eight years.

    The 26-year-old averaged just 6.0 points per game during the regular season but was among the Warriors' top rebounders at 7.3 per game while providing a strong interior defensive presence.

    Looney also chipped in a couple of standout performances during Golden State's title run. The seven-year veteran grabbed 22 rebounds – one short of a franchise single-game postseason record – in a series-clinching Game 6 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in the second round, then later amassed 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting along with 12 boards in a Game 2 victory over the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference Finals.

    Keeping Looney was a top priority for the Warriors, who will be losing two other important rotation players in free agency in forward Otto Porter Jr. and guard Gary Payton II.

    Porter agreed to a two-year contract with the Toronto Raptors, according to Yahoo Sports, while The Athletic reports that Payton will sign a three-year, $28 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.