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Getty Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks reacts in the final seconds of their 130-121 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Ever since their first-round matchup against the Atlanta Hawks back during the 2021 NBA postseason, All-Star Trae Young has turned himself into a true modern-day villain for the New York Knicks and their fanbase, and the point guard seems to relish in this particular role.

Already having been on record as noting that the new-found rivalry with the Knickerbockers gives him more motivation to produce, it should come as no surprise that the 24-year-old executed an immaculate fake-out behind-the-back pass early on in the third period that had spectators and media pundits alike completely in awe.

This Trae Young pass fake ????https://t.co/0rrSPxOHD0 pic.twitter.com/XxBBe8WjPZ

— NBA (@NBA) January 21, 2023

Following the game’s conclusion, Young was asked by a reporter to break down the specific highlight-reel move where he nonchalantly shared his perspective on the play.

“I was coming off the screen and, I mean, they’re in a drop coverage. I forgot who popped or set the screen but I knew it was one of our bigs who could shoot, maybe it was (John Collins), but I think it was just trying to fake him and make Julius (Randle) go back to his man just for a second for me to get around him and that’s all it was,” Young said with a delighted smirk.

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Atlanta wound up breezing by the Knicks with a final score reading 139-124 while Young put up 27 points and 6 assists to help lead the charge for the Hawks.

Randle Blames Defense for Knicks Loss

Trae Young’s astounding move aside, Julius Randle believes that the Knicks played putrid defense all night during their bout against the Hawks, as he went off on the team’s efforts on the less glamorous side of the ball during a post-game media session.

“I don’t think on the defensive end they felt us at all and it was just too easy. They were in a rhythm all night…We didn’t stop the ball in transition, pick-and-roll we weren’t great. You know, (we were a) step late when they kicked out on closeouts and gave guys like (DeAndre) Hunter and (John) Collins and (Bogdan Bogdanovic) shots and they stepped up and made them so we didn’t do anything well, to be honest,” Randle said.

"I don't think on the defensive end they felt us at all…We didn't stop the ball in transition…pick & roll…closeouts…We didn't do anything well TBH
"…Our defense is a team thing. When we're all…playing for each other then we're good"

– Julius Randle on Knicks loss to Hawks pic.twitter.com/3vm3Ds61XI

— New York Basketball (@NBA_NewYork) January 21, 2023

The Knicks’ matchup against Atlanta marked the first game sans Mitchell Robinson, as the big man sustained a right thumb injury during their previous outing that required surgery.

With this, the team’s defensive enforcer is expected to be sidelined for a minimum of three weeks, leaving the team with the task of trying to figure out how they can appropriately fill out the now-vacated minutes at the pivot during his absence.

Knicks Urged to Trade Big

In a January 19 piece published by Bleacher Report, writer Mo Dakhil discussed the idea of the Knicks trading free agency signing Isaiah Hartenstein before this year’s February 9th trade deadline and believes that, by doing so, it could help create more diversity and experimentation within Tom Thibodeau’s rotation.

“The trade would make them thin at center, but the Knicks should look to spread his minutes around. Give more minutes to Jericho Sims, whose per-36 numbers are comparable to Hartenstein’s. Experiment with playing Obi Toppin and Julius Randle. Playing small would not be a bad idea for New York,” Dakhil wrote.

NBA Exec: “Knicks have engaged in talks with the Pacers revolving around a potential trade for Obi Toppin”

“The executive would continue by stating that Indiana has some extra first-rounders that could be available for the taking in this year’s NBA Draft”

(via Sean Deveney)

— KnicksMuse (@KnicksMuse) December 31, 2022

Not only would moving Hartenstein allow for someone like sophomore big man Jericho Sims to receive more action, but Dakhil believes that it could also help Obi Toppin get more run as well, particularly in lineups consisting of both he and Julius Randle which, should it prove to be successful, could lessen the chatter that he could be a realistic trade asset for the Knicks this season.

News Source: Heavy.com

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