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Trae Young again enjoys MSG spotlight, Hawks eliminate Knicks

Trae Young in Hawks-Knicks Game 5

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks points at Reggie Bullock #25 of the New York Knicks after scoring in the first quarter during Game Five of the Eastern Conference first round series at Madison Square Garden on June 02, 2021 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Wendell Cruz-Pool/Getty Images)

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After a whistle, Knicks guard Reggie Bullock swatted the ball from Hawks star Trae Young’s hands. As Young – who immediately recovered the ball – turned to complain, Nerlens Noel again knocked away the ball. Young didn’t object that time.

He just repeatedly nodded his head as if to say he understood the terms of this battle.

In his first postseason, Young again thrived in the hostile environment and bright lights of Madison Square Garden, leading Atlanta to a 103-89 series-ending victory in Game 5 Wednesday.

The Hawks advance to face the 76ers in the second round. With Joel Embiid injured, Atlanta has a real chance to win that series.

Especially with Young, who had 36 points and nine assists Wednesday.

Young heard Knicks fans chant “F*** Trae Young,” got spit on and saw New York’s mayor deride him during this series. But he just proved his resolve, even as the series got more chippy.

Tonight, Knicks bigs Julius Randle and Noel and Hawks forward Solomon Hill got technical fouls for a halftime skirmish that began with Randle tossing the ball onto a fallen Young:

The Knicks regained credibility with their first postseason appearance in eight years. But New York overachieved to get this far, and it showed against the more-talented Hawks.

Randle (23 points on 8-of-21 shooting, 13 rebounds, three assists and eight turnovers) was too all over the place. Derrick Rose (six points on 3-of-11 shooting) appeared to run out of gas.

As enjoyable as this season was for the Knicks, attention will turn to their ability to lure a star.