The Knicks' best season in nearly a decade is over.
The Knicks have been sent “on vacation,’’ as Hawks center Clint Capela made good on his promise.
The Knicks weaved a wonderful 41-31 regular season, but it proved inflated as the Hawks outclassed the Knicks, eliminating them with a 103-89 victory Wednesday at the Garden in Game 5. The Hawks took out the Knicks in five.
Capela was a huge factor in wiping the glass with 14 points and 15 rebounds, and shoving them into an offseason of potential promise with $60 million of cap space and two first-round picks. The Knicks missed injured center Mitchell Robinson in the series.
Julius Randle capped his wayward first playoff series with eight turnovers, 23 points, shooting just 8 of 21 and playing extremely poorly in the second half.
“I told our guys this, I’m proud of what our team accomplished this year,” Tom Thibodeau said. “Obviously disappointed with the result tonight. Hopefully we can learn and get better from it. But I thought our guys gave us everything they had all year long. I’m very proud of them. Hopefully we can take this and use it as motivation for the work we have to get done in the summer in preparation for next year.”
A defiant RJ Barrett predicted the Knicks were heading back to Atlanta for a Game 6, saying in the morning, “We’re winning tonight.’’
But Barrett didn’t make good on the guarantee. Barrett scored 17 and shot 5 of 14. He was outplayed in the series by Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who was selected one pick after him at No. 4 in the same 2019 draft. Hunter hit a 3-point dagger with 5:43 left putting Atlanta up 19.
Hunter guarded Randle, who had a strong 15-point first half. But Randle petered out with an erratic final two quarters in which he forced shots and was 3 of 9.
The Knicks lost three straight games in the series once Derrick Rose was anointed starting point guard over Elfrid Payton. The 32-year-old had no spring Wednesday and finished with just six points on 3 of 11 shooting.
“I had some knick-knack injuries from last game,’’ Rose said. “I got hit in the knee. Just didn’t feel right. Thibs decided not to play me in the fourth.’’
The Hawks were up 52-47 at halftime before taking control. The teams squabbled before heading off court for intermission. Knicks center Nerlens Noel and Hawks big man Solomon Hill got into it, jawing and shoving before a mass of bodies intervened.
Randle and Noel picked up technicals for the Knicks, with Hill getting one for the Hawks. The bad blood between these teams was pure.
The Hawks imposed their will on the Knicks in the third quarter and took a 12-point lead into the final frame, 74-62.
The Garden crowd was back chanting “F–k Trae Young’’ in the first quarter and “Trae Young’s balding’’ in the second quarter, and he wasn’t his usual accurate self, going 4 of 14 but still wound up with 14 points by the break. He finished with 36 points on 10 of 28 shooting and nine assists.
The Knicks were bounced on the 21st anniversary of the last time Knicks played a game in June. They were eliminated in six games by the Pacers on June 2, 2000, in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Hawks will face the 76ers in the second round.
This story originally appeared on: NyPost - Author:Marc Berman