Young was doing his thing, killing the Knicks with 20 points in the first half, appeasing another boisterous Garden crowd throwing verbal epithets in his own way. Young was a one-man demolition crew, hitting 7 of 11 shots from the ground – four of five at 3 points – to lead his team to a 57-44 lead over the listless Knicks.
So what did the Knicks do differently in the second half, as Young scored just 10 points to finish with 30 and wasn’t a big factor in the dying minutes, as the Knicks had took control of their 101-92 win? Young couldn’t score on the bench as McMillan kept her star out of the game late in the third quarter and into the fourth quarter, a crucial step when the Knicks took the lead and never let go.
“Trae played 35 minutes, that’s a lot of minutes,” said McMillan. “This is our normal rotation. “
Using normal rotation with a chance of taking a 2-0 lead in the series, with a declining lead, is questionable. McMillan also kept Young’s backcourt teammate Bogdan Bogdanovic on the bench as the Knicks mounted their comeback.
“Of course I wanted to be in there,” Young said. “But I trust Mac and his rotations. “
The Garden crowd hit Young again with lewd verbal epithets, and added a new one, chanting “Trae is bald.” That didn’t deter him in the first half.
There is no doubt that the 22-year-old heard the roar of the hostile crowd and, rather than walk away from it, he acted like a not-so-silent assassin in the way he devastated the much-vaunted defense. Knicks – pulling on it, driving in and bypassing it.
There was, if not a warning, certainly an uplifting tale to Young before Game 2. He buried the Knicks with his verve and swerved as the Hawks won Game 1 in the dying seconds, thanks to a young float. . Then he silenced the crowd in the Garden, bringing his finger to his lips.
“If you wanna talk mt, talk mt,” Derrick Rose said before Game 2. “It’s okay. But the next game, it will be more difficult and this environment will create a good atmosphere for a good basketball. “
Young hit the first basket of the game, 3 points off the top of the key, but he didn’t force anything. He finished the first quarter with five points and three assists, happy to set things up for the Hawks as they built a 27-20 lead. He rested on the bench and hit the court again with 8:43 left in the second quarter.
He left in the second quarter.
He hit a 3. He hit two free throws and then shot long for another 3. He scored on a breakaway. When center Nerlens Noel lit Young on the perimeter, Young sensed the inadequacy, faked a workout and nailed a jump back, with the 6-foot-11 Noel. It was 54-41. Young drilled another 3 points behind to give him 15 points in the second quarter and 20 points in the first half.
Then McMillan put his star on the bench and left it there too long.
“I think they exhausted us in the second half and we really had nothing,” said McMillan. “We gassed ourselves a bit. We had to give these guys a bit of a break. “
It was a bit of a break.
“I don’t know if it was fatigue or if they were just playing games,” Young said. “I felt good. Give them credit for making tough shots. ”