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

  • Randle rewarded with $117m extension after leading Knicks' rejuvenation Randle rewarded with $117m extension after leading Knicks' rejuvenation

    Julius Randle, the NBA's Most Improved Player, has been handed a four-year, $117million extension with the New York Knicks.

    CAA Sports, the agency which represents Randle, told ESPN of the deal on Thursday.

    Randle earned individual recognition in an outstanding 2020-21 regular season, acknowledged as the Most Improved Player and also named to the All-NBA Second Team.

    The 26-year-old averaged career-highs of 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game to lead the Knicks back to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, showing the greatest year-to-year improvement in win percentage in franchise history.

    Randle supplied 22.2 per cent of his team's points – ranking sixth in the league in that sense – as his usage rate rose to 29.3 per cent under Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau.

    His most prominent area of progress was from three-point range, up from 27.7 per cent shooting to 41.1. The Knicks were the most improved team in the NBA from deep.

    Although Randle then averaged only 18.0 points in the playoffs, with 33.3 per cent three-point shooting, as the Knicks were dumped out by the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, he was well worth a lucrative new deal.

    And in agreeing terms now, rather than at the end of his existing contract in 2022, the 6ft 8in forward has granted the Knicks greater flexibility to continue to build a team around him.

    No team in the league had more cap space heading into free agency this year than the Knicks, whose early moves saw a number of last year's key men return alongside Evan Fournier, the France international coming off a short stint with the Boston Celtics.

    Wednesday then brought news of a deal to bring in Kemba Walker, who agreed a buyout with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    Walker appears primed to start at point guard in an area the Knicks badly needed to improve, with Elfrid Payton eventually losing the faith of Thibodeau in the postseason after 13 minutes, one point and one assist.

  • Anderson swings day two in England's favour before rain brings India respite Anderson swings day two in England's favour before rain brings India respite

    Two James Anderson wickets helped England wrestle back some control on the second day of the first Test against India at Trent Bridge.

    A dismal day one batting display saw the hosts all out for 183 before India made 21 without loss in reply.

    But a productive spell either side of lunch on Thursday, led by bowling great Anderson, brought Joe Root's men back into the reckoning.

    Anderson removed Cheteshwar Pujara and old foe Virat Kohli in quick succession, although bad light and rain soon intervened and allowed India to reach the end of play on 125-4.

    The tourists had withstood early England pressure and looked on course to finish the first session still unbeaten until Ollie Robinson's short ball – the final delivery before lunch – tempted Rohit Sharma to pick out Sam Curran at the boundary.

    Anderson maintained England's momentum following the restart with two wickets in as many balls, including a popular golden duck for captain Kohli, who edged behind.

    KL Rahul reached fifty as India sought to regroup, only to then have partner Ajinkya Rahane run out by a clinical direct hit from Jonny Bairstow.

    Dom Sibley put down Rishabh Pant from a simple chance and rain fell to further frustrate a resurgent England, who returned twice – first for a single ball and then for two – before heading back to the dressing room again, with play eventually abandoned.

    A TIMELY BOWLING BOOST

    England were on course to reach the end of the morning session without reward and worse news would great supporters during the interval, with confirmation Jofra Archer will miss the rest of the year, including the Ashes tour of Australia.

    How Root could have used the paceman's inspiration as his side started to toil again, staring down the barrel of a fifth defeat in six Tests in their worst barren run since 2018.

    Robinson's much-needed breakthrough, in his second match at this level, belatedly provided cause for optimism.

    MILESTONE MADE IN STYLE

    Anderson's second wicket took him level with Anil Kumble on 619 in Tests, the third-most in history. Of those, 120 have come against India – his most against any team and the most by any player in the men's format – and six have come against Kohli, although this was the first in their rivalry since 2014.

    The wicket brought relief then for Anderson, while it was Kohli's fifth Test golden duck, of which three have come in England against England. Indeed, Stuart Broad had Kohli caught behind first ball in his previous away innings against England back in 2018.

  • Man Utd loan Pellistri to Alaves again despite positive pre-season Man Utd loan Pellistri to Alaves again despite positive pre-season

    Manchester United have allowed talented youngster Facundo Pellistri to re-join LaLiga side Deportivo Alaves on loan for the 2021-22 season.

    Pellistri, 19, joined United from Penarol in his native Uruguay last October before moving to Alaves in January for the second half of 2020-21 in search of first-team football.

    He featured 12 times in Spain's top flight, five appearances coming as a starter, with Alaves ultimately finishing 16th and avoiding relegation.

    Pellistri returned to Old Trafford for pre-season and enjoyed a fairly prominent role with many of United's attacking players yet to return from international duty.

    He scored a lovely goal that turned out to be the winner in the 2-1 friendly victory over Wayne Rooney's Derby County, before teeing up Jesse Lingard against QPR and also appearing for the best part of 30 minutes at home to Brentford.

    His performances led some fans to suggest Pellistri could be a viable option in the United first-team in 2021-22, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer always hinted another loan move was likely – with Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood and Amad Diallo all seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order on the right flank, a temporary departure has come to pass.

    The teenager will hope to have slightly more of an impact on the pitch at Alaves in 2021-22 than last season, however.

    While his talent on the ball was obvious, his 2.5 successful dribbles per game more than any other player in the squad between January 1 and the end of the season, creatively he struggled to be influential.

    Pellistri only averaged 0.33 chances created per 90 minutes – among the outfield Alaves players to feature for more than 20 minutes after January 1, only six players were less effective at picking out key passes.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.