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Toppin dunk, Walker triple-double highlight Knicks easy win over Hawks

It was not the game the suits in Manhattan envisioned when it was scheduled, but it might have been the game the Knicks needed.

New York’s starters were strong on both ends from the opening tip, racing out to a 23-8 lead, with Julius Randle finding his 3-point stroke and hitting 6-of-9 on the night. How good a day was it for the Knicks? Their biggest concern in the fourth was getting 6-foot (on a good day) Kemba Walker a 10th rebound and a triple-double— the first Knick ever with a Christmas Day triple-double.

Obi Toppin capped it all off with a potential dunk-fo-the-year candidate — between the legs on the fast break. He’s done that one before.

The Knicks cruised to a 101-87 win against a depleted version of the Hawks. Randle led the way with 25 points.

This game made the Christmas Day slate for the NBA because it was supposed to be Trae Young’s return to Madison Square Garden after becoming the most hated man in the building last playoffs. Except he was out for this game due to COVID protocols, as were Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter and Lou Williams, plus DeAndre Hunter is recovering from a wrist injury.

Young not playing didn’t stop some “f*** Trae Young” chants from Knicks fans late, but that didn’t impress Young.

John Collins and Delon Wright each scored 20 for Atlanta, but without Young the offense isn’t the same and the Hawks’ 25th-ranked defense is not capable of bailing them out.

The Knicks looked sharp, with quick ball movement and player movement creating open shots — things they have not done consistently this season. Evan Fournier had 15 points, as did rookie Quintin Grimes.

It’s the kind of confidence-boosting laugher of a win the 15-18 Knicks needed as they try to climb back into the East playoff picture.